There are many different types of earthworms, and each one lives in a specific environment. Worms are an important part of the soil food web, and they help to improve soil health by breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of worms that you will find in your garden. We will also provide pictures of each type of worm for identification purposes.
What Are Earthworms And What Do They Do For The Environment
Earthworms are small, soft-bodied invertebrates that live in the soil. They vary in size from a few millimeters to over a meter in length. Earthworms have a cylindrical body with smooth, moist skin. They have no skeleton or hard parts. Their bodies are divided into segmented rings. Each ring has setae (bristles) which help the worm move through the soil.
Earthworms are not only important for their role in the environment but also because they make it easier to break down organic matter. They aerate the soil as well which helps plant roots grow healthier and more easily than if there weren’t any worms around! It’s a win-win situation: we get rid of waste products that would otherwise pollute our planet while giving plants what is necessary so they can flourish on top land like never before
The Benefits Of Having Earthworms In Your Garden
As mentioned before, earthworms are important for breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil. This is beneficial to gardeners in a number of ways:
Healthier plants: Plants that have access to aerated soil and nutrients are typically healthier than those that don’t. This means they’re more likely to resist disease and pests, and they’ll generally be more vigorous overall.
Better yields: Healthy plants usually produce better yields, so if you’re hoping to grow vegetables or fruits for consumption, you’ll likely see a bump in your harvest if you have earthworms working in your favor.
Improved drainage: Since earthworms help loosen up compacted soil, it drains better after rainstorms or irrigation. This can help reduce the chances of plant roots being waterlogged, which can lead to all sorts of problems.
Reduced erosion: Looser, aerated soil is also less likely to erode away during heavy rains. This means that your garden will be better protected from flooding and runoff.
Improvement Of Soil Composition And Structure
Earthworms consume dead leaves, grass, and other organic matter. This process of decomposition increases the number of nutrients in the soil, making it more fertile. The earthworms’ castings (waste products) are also rich in nutrients and help to improve soil structure.
The main benefit of earthworms is their ability to aerate the soil. Their burrowing action creates channels through which air and water can reach plant roots more easily. This results in healthier plants with stronger root systems.
Earthworms also help to break down organic matter so that it can be used by plants as food. In this way, they play an important role in the recycling of nutrients back into the ecosystem. They are sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s plows’ because of the way they loosen and aerate the soil.
Assistance In The Decomposition Of Organic Matter
Earthworms consume large quantities of organic matter, such as dead leaves and other plant debris. This helps to speed up the decomposition process, making nutrients more readily available for plants.
As they eat their way through the soil, earthworms also deposit their waste products. These ‘castings’ are rich in nutrients and can be beneficial for plants.
Types of Earthworms
There are many different types of earthworms, but they can broadly be classified into three groups – those that live in the soil (endogeic species), those that burrow through it (epigeic species), and those that burrow vertically in the mineral layers of soil, creating permanent burrows as deep as six feet below surface level (anecic species).
Endogeic earthworms typically live near the surface of the soil and make horizontal tunnels. They tend to be smaller than epigeic earthworms and their castings are more granular in texture.
Epigeic earthworms, on the other hand, live nearer the surface of the soil and make vertical tunnels. They are larger than endogeic earthworms and their castings have a coarser texture.
Anecic earthworms are the largest earthworms, and they live in permanent burrows that can be up to six feet deep. Their castings have a coarse texture and are high in organic matter.
Different types of earthworms play different roles in the ecosystem. Endogeic earthworms aerate the soil and help with water retention, while epigeic earthworms help with decomposition. Anecic earthworms provide channels for water and air to reach plant roots, and their castings are high in nutrients that plants need to grow.
Earthworm Species You Might Find in Your Garden
Here are some of the more common earthworm species you might find in your garden:
Lumbricus rubellus, also known as the red worm or brandling worm, is a common earthworm found in gardens across Europe. It gets its name from its reddish-brown coloration. These worms can grow up to 15 cm in length and prefer damp conditions.
Lumbricus rubellus are often used as bait by anglers and are an important part of the diet of many animals, such as badgers, foxes, and hedgehogs.
These earthworms are also important for soil health as they help to aerate and improve drainage. Their castings are rich in nutrients and provide an excellent source of food for plants.
Lumbricus rubellus are hermaphrodites, meaning each individual worm contains both male and female reproductive organs. They reproduce by joining together with another worm and exchanging sperm. Each worm then produces a cocoon in which its eggs develop.
Lumbricus terrestris (Canadian nightcrawlers)
Dew worms, also known as Canadian night crawlers or angleworms, are one of the most common earthworms found in North America. They get their name from the fact that they are often seen after a rain shower crawling on the ground in search of food.
Dew worms can grow up to 12 inches in length and are usually a dark brown or reddish color. These earthworms have smooth skin and lack the setae (bristles) that are found on other types of earthworms.
Dew worms live in soil that is moist and rich in organic matter. They play an important role in aerating and loosening compacted soils so that water and air can penetrate more easily. Their castings are also an important source of nutrients for plants.
Green worms are another type of earthworm that is found in gardens. Green worms get their name from their coloration which can range from light green to almost black.
Green worms are smaller than dew worms, typically only growing to be about four inches in length. They have smooth skin and lack setae.
Green worms are found in moist soil that is high in organic matter. Like dew worms, they help to aerate and loosen compacted soils so that water and air can penetrate more easily. Their castings are also an important source of nutrients for plants.
Eisenia fetida, also known as the red wiggler or brandling worm, is a type of earthworm that is commonly used in vermicomposting. These worms are small, only growing to be about three inches in length, and have a reddish-brown coloration.
Eisenia fetida are able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, which makes them well-suited for vermicomposting. They are also prolific breeders, so a small number of worms can quickly turn into a large population.
The castings produced by Eisenia fetida are very high in nutrients, making them an excellent fertilizer for plants. This type of earthworm is also often used as bait by fishermen, as they are very attractive to fish.
Eudrilus eugeniae (African nightcrawlers)
Eudrilus eugeniae is another type of earthworm that is commonly used in vermicomposting. These worms are slightly larger than Eisenia fetida, growing to be about four inches in length. They are also a bit lighter in color, with a reddish-brown hue. They are also known as African nightcrawlers.
Like Eisenia fetida, Eudrilus eugeniae can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and are very prolific breeders. The castings produced by these worms are also very high in nutrients, making them an excellent fertilizer for plants.
Eudrilus eugeniae is the most common type of earthworm used in vermicomposting operations around the world. This is due to their ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions and their high reproductive rate.
Eisenia hortensis (European Nightcrawler)
Eisenia hortensis is a larger earthworm, typically reaching lengths of 12 inches or more. They are also one of the strongest earthworms, able to lift up to four times their own weight. This makes them a popular choice for anglers looking for bait worms. They are also known as European nightcrawlers.
These worms are also very good at aerating and loosening compacted soils. This helps improve drainage and root growth in plants, making them a valuable addition to any garden.
Eisenia hortensis is native to Europe but has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America. They are now considered an invasive species in some areas due to their ability to out-compete native earthworm species.
Perionyx excavatus, commonly known as the Indian blue earthworm, is another popular species of earthworm used for bait by anglers. They are also used in vermicomposting, as they are very efficient at breaking down organic matter.
These worms are native to India but have also been introduced to other parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia. In some areas, they are considered an invasive species due to their ability to out-compete native earthworm species.
Different Types Of Earthworms Have Different Names Depending On Their Size
A simplified classification of earthworms based on their main function is as follows: the compost worm, the earth-worker worm, and the root-dwelling worm.
The Compost Worms
As the name suggests, compost worms are used in vermicomposting. This is a type of composting that uses earthworms to speed up the decomposition of organic matter.
Compost worms are usually red wigglers (Eisenia fetida), although other species can also be used. Red wigglers are small, red-colored earthworms that thrive in damp and dark conditions. They can eat their own body weight in food every day, and their castings (waste) are high in nutrients that plants need.
The Earth-Worker Worms
Earth-worker worms are larger than compost worms and are often used for bait. The common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) is the most popular species, although there are many others.
Earth-worker worms burrow through the soil, aerating it and helping to improve drainage. They also break down organic matter, making it easier for plants to access the nutrients they need.
The Root-Dwelling Worms
Root-dwelling worms are small, thin worms that live in the root zone of plants. They help to aerate the soil and improve drainage, as well as providing a source of food for other animals.
Root-dwelling worms include the common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris), red wigglers (Eisenia fetida), and nightcrawlers (Lumbricus Noctilio).
So, what have we learned about earthworms? We know that they are an important part of the ecosystem and play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter. They come in different sizes with different purposes, and knowing about their diversity can help us better understand our environment. Stay tuned for upcoming posts as we explore more invertebrates!
FAQ About Earthworms
How many kind of earthworms are there?
There are over 6000 species of earthworms that have been identified.
What is the most common earthworm?
The most common earthworm is the nightcrawler. Nightcrawlers are widely distributed and can be found in nearly every continent.
What is the biggest earthworm?
The largest earthworm on record was 22 feet long and was found in South Africa.
How long do earthworms live?
Earthworms typically live for one to three years, but some species have been known to live up to ten years. Some scientists believe that certain species of earthworms may be immortal.
Do all earthworms have eyes?
No, not all earthworms have eyes. Some species have simple light-sensitive spots, while others lack any visual organs altogether. Nightcrawlers are an example of a species that has eyes.
What do earthworms eat?
Earthworms are detritivores, which means they consume dead and decaying organic matter. Their diet consists of leaves, grass, manure, and other decomposing material.
How do you attract earthworms to your garden?
There are a few things you can do to attract earthworms to your garden: add compost or manure to the soil, reduce tillage, leave plant debris on the ground, and water deeply but less often.
Do all earthworms live in soil?
No – while most earthworms do make their homes in soil, there are some that live in water or on land without any soil present.
What do baby earthworms look like?
Earthworm eggs are incredibly small – often less than one millimeter in diameter. Once they hatch, young worms resemble adults, but are much smaller and lack developed reproductive organs. As they mature, earthworms grow in length and width, eventually reaching their full size.
What do earthworms eat?
Earthworms are detritivores – meaning that they consume dead and decaying plant matter. They play an important role in the decomposition process, breaking down organic material so that it can be reused by plants as nutrients.
How do earthworms benefit gardens?
The benefits of earthworms to gardens are many! As mentioned before, earthworms help to aerate and till soil, which improves plant growth. Their burrows also provide homes for other small creatures like insects, while their castings (poop) act as a natural fertilizer for plants. In short, earthworms are essential for healthy gardens!