• Wildlife Friendly Otley

EARTHWORM


The humble earthworm is actually both interesting and vital. Its skin performs a range of useful functions. It breathes through it, needing to keep it moist to facilitate the absorption of dissolved oxygen. Conversely, on wet days like today, they may come out of the soil because their burrows have flooded and they can’t breathe. The skin also has receptor cells sensitive to light and touch (worms don’t have eyes), and it is covered in bristles that move in and out, enabling the worm to move. In one acre of land there can be more than a million of these hermaphrodites. Their benefit to us lies in their contribution to soil health: they mix it, loosen it, aerate it and their slime contains nitrogen, a plant nutrient. They also eat decaying matter, and can eat their weight each day. Unfortunately, it’s a myth that when split in two they can regenerate as two new worms, though they can survive the loss of their “tail”.


Photo by Pixabay

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Masthead photography courtesy of Mark Denton

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