Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me ….

I was standing in my lawn the other day, doing some weeding, when I felt something slimy hit my foot. This little guy had actually climbed on top of my foot. I picked him up, and he thrashed around like mad. He was not pleased about something.

This is (I think) a Common Earthworm (Family: Lumbricidae). It appears there is a wide variety of species, and I’m not even sure of the genus. If you happen to be a worm expert…please comment! Is this a night crawler – Lumbricus terrestris? Or a common redworm –  Lumbricus rubellus?

cropped worm

Most earthworms are indigenous to Europe, but were brought to North America in the 1600s with European settlers. 18/20 earthworm species in Canada are non-native.

Most gardeners love having earthworms in their garden, as they aerate the soil as they burrow and create passageways for water and air. Their feces provide important nutrients. However, this feature that makes them helpful in gardens actually makes it easier for invasive plant species to take hold in forests, as they eat away at a protective top layer of soil that is necessary for many native forest species.

Worm sex (because I know you want to know):

Worms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. I remember picking one up as a child, and finding another attached. Both were encircled by a mucous excretion called a slime tube… sexy, right? Once sperm is deposited, they detach and each worm (carrying sperm from the other) makes a second mucous ring, and slides that along until sperm meets egg. Then the whole thing comes off and makes a pouch, which is left in the soil to hatch later. Worm sex. Now you know.

As I also learned, they have cells which are sensitive to light, which is why they thrash around in the sun, and how this one landed on my foot.

Sources:

http://ecosystems.serc.si.edu/earthworm-invaders/

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/earthworm/

https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/invert.html

http://www.ecologytek.com/wormfacts.htm

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Posted on July 9, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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