Don’t overlook the amazing worm

Living organisms, both macro and micro, benefit soil productivity and contribute to the function of all ecosystems.

Living organisms, both macro and micro, benefit soil productivity and contribute to the function of all ecosystems.

The cycling of nutrients is a critical function that is essential to life on earth. Earthworms play a critical and vital role in the soil food web and to the health of our soils in our gardens and farm soils.

Worms are shredders and our own natural recycling machine.  They tear up and pull down plant litter as they consume bacteria and fungi, mix minerals along with their excretions called castings, creating fresh, nutrient-filled soil for plants and other organisms and improving soil structure.

Worms usually stay in their burrows during the day and come up near or on the surface at night to feed.  If the air is too cold or dry, they’ll stay in the soil.

If it’s too wet or rainy, they come to the surface.

Earthworms eat plant materials, tiny roots and other bits. Some of the more known common worms are the garden, night crawlers, manure, red wrigglers, tape and silkworms. They are found worldwide and used as bait, human and animal food, breeding stock and for building soils.

Here are some more interesting facts about our important soil dwellers.  The mighty worm can consume one-third of it’s own body weight in one day and is strong enough to move stones 60 times its own weight.

Worm castings are rich in nutrients for both the plants and microbes.  They have, on average, two to five times as much potassium as normal soil and the soil passed through them contain approximately seven times as much nitrogen.

They are food for birds and small animals and they nourish the soil when they die.  Worms burrow through compacted soils and create channels for drainage, aeration and root growth.

They possess five to nine hearts, are 82 per cent protein and full of omega 3 essential oils.

Worms are hermaphrodites carrying both sex organs and can lay eggs and give sperm to each other.  After mating, each worm produces several cocoons containing one to four eggs, depending on the species.

Worms are made up of two parts: skin and bands of muscles throughout its body and depending on the damage, can grow back severed segments of their bodies.

They have no teeth, so digest through a type of gizzard; have no eyes, but have light receptors that can tell them if they’re in darkness or light; have no ears, but sense vibrations of other animals nearby.

They have a head and breath air in and carbon dioxide out through the skin. Air dissolves on the mucus of their skin, so they must stay moist to breathe, otherwise they suffocate.

They have a tiny “brain” that connects with nerves from their hearts, skin and muscles which enables them to detect light, vibrations and some tastes.

In old Tibet, monks believed that worms were the reincarnation of their mothers and that they would not allow any harm done to them. Aristotle considered worms to be the “intestines of the soul.”

Charles Darwin spent 39 years investigating the worm, realizing their truly amazing (and largely unrecognized) functions and roles in history.

Cleopatra considered them to be sacred, and didn’t allow farmers to remove the soil from their lands.

Toxic chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, tilling and over or underwatering can damage or kill these precious worms.

Hey, let’s give these all-important critters the respect they deserve and give them a great soil environment to live in.


Just Posted

In Photos: Crowd thrilled at S-Games in Sicamous

The celebration of two-wheeled transportation showed off daring athletes on all kinds of bikes.

Mix of sun and cloud for the Okanagan-Similkameen Shuswap

Chance of showers for much of the region this afternoon

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water quality notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges cadet program on gendered policy

He wants the policy to be more gender inclusive

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Summer sun for Sunday

The forecast for the week ahead shows some rain but plenty of sun and warm tempertures.

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

CDART trains North Okanagan volunteers

Regional group looking to form to help animals in cases of emergencies and disasters

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Second osprey chick dies, Okanagan web cam off

The second chick in an osprey nest featured on the Town of Osoyoos website has died

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

Fire department helps with body recovery in Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Most Read