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Worm  Earthworms

Earthworm - Photo  Copyright 2003 Gary Bradley Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
A great way to see all the features on worms and other invertebrates is with a special magnifier box - click here

Latin name: Lumbricus rubellus

Size: Grows to 15cms long. Some other species of earthworm can grow to 30cms long.

Distribution: Found throughout the UK.

Months seen: All year.

Food: Feeds on organic matter in soil and rotting vegetation.

Habitat: Burrows into soil. Usually found in the top 30cms, but can burrow as deep as 250cms.

Special features: The reddish coloured worm in the photo above is just one of 25 different species of worm found in the UK.

The worms mouth is at the pointed end. Worms do not have any eyes, although they are able to sense light and dark along their whole body.

As they munch their way through soil they create long tunnels, performing a vital task of aerating the soil.

Click for a better viewThe waste soil which passes through the worm can often be found at the surface in little piles known as 'worm casts'.

Each section of the worms body, except the first and last, is equipped with bristles which help it to gain a grip on the soil so it can move backwards and forwards through its tunnels.

Earthworms recycle many of the leaves which fall from trees each autumn. At night, they come to the surface, grab a fallen leaf, and drag it back down their tunnel to feed on.

Most earthworms mate underground, except our largest species, Lumbricus terrestris, which mates on the surface in damp conditions, usually at night. All worms are equipped with both male and female reproductive organs, however each worm needs to mate with another worm in order to cross-fertilize.


Did You Know?
Birds like to eat earthworms, but they need to pull the worms out of their burrows first. Sometimes the worm puts up such a fight that the bird snaps the worms head off. Amazingly, the worm is able to escape and grow another head!


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  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved