As we are in the midst of the spring season, we have many things to look forward to: the warmer weather, birds chirping and of course the rejuvenation of the flowers and trees. And, who do we have to thank for the latter? Earthworms!!
Earthworms are a key component to the ecosystem; they help break down organic (natural) material that will cause the soil to be richer and helps irrigate soil for the plants. The earthworm brings the topsoil to the subsoil, which brings the nutrients from the topsoil down to where the roots are located. Plants benefit from this process because it brings the nutrients where they can absorb them.
Surprisingly, earthworms (Lumbricus sp.) are not native. When the European settlers came over (1600’s-1700’s), they brought along some plants, which had some worms within the soil. If it wasn’t for arrival of these worms, our soil would be a lot different from what it is today.
The earthworm itself is very fascinating considering it doesn’t have any appendages nor eyes. So how is the earthworm able to move throughout the soil? First of all, the animal is one strong muscle, it doesn’t have any bones!
Along the segments, there are tiny “hairs”, setaes, that allow the worm to stay anchored and to get a better handling of the ground. The setae also helps the worm to keep its ground (sorry for the pun) if it is getting preyed upon by a hungry robin.
The earthworm doesn’t have any eyes but they have light sensitive cells found on their body that causes it to “see” different light intensities. They do not want to go where the light is too intense because if they lose the moisture within their skin they would dry up and are not able to “breathe”.
So, as you are preparing a flower arrangement or working in the garden this season, make sure you give credit where credit is due, to the earthworm. Drop some orange rinds, banana peels, and coffee grinds to an area and watch the soil become richer as time goes by!