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Every landowner wants a high yield on his land. It has long been proven that earthworms are a sign of soil health and fertility, therefore their presence in a garden area is vital for the development of flora representatives.
- Earthworms - who are they, description of the species
- Habitat, lifestyle
- Life span and reproduction
- Benefits for farmers
Earthworms - who are they, description of the species
Earthworms are part of the suborder of small-bristled worms from the order Haplotaxida, which inhabit almost everywhere, with the exception of the mainland of Antarctica.
Initially, many species were not so widespread, but in the process of settling people in new territories and cultivating the soil with them, they acquired a wider habitat. About 10 species of individuals of the Lumbricidae family can be found throughout the Russian Federation.
These simplest invertebrates got their name because they crawled to the surface exactly when it was raining. This is due to the filling of rainwater in the worms' burrows, which does not allow them to breathe and forces them to leave their shelter.
The most common types are:
- Eisenia Thetis,
- Canadian Creep,
- Dendrobena Octahedron and others.
Recently, they began to be called technological, since they ensure the processing of organic residues into vermicompost.
The earthworm is characterized by such habitats as compost pits, manure and droppings, landfills for organic waste, mulched vegetable gardens, i.e. moist soil rich in organic matter.
The earthworm's lifestyle is nocturnal, since ultraviolet light is very destructive for them. It is at this time that they are active and eat the main amount of food. Small-sized food, they can take to their burrow. For safety reasons, when the worms crawl to the surface, they leave their tails for the first time in the soil.
During the day, these invertebrates cover their burrows with some objects, for example, foliage, and are engaged in breaking through tunnels. Crawling in soft soil, they shrink and drill it in front.
In this case, the worms become thin, and squeeze between the lumps of earth. Then they take their shape again and push the soil apart, gradually pulling up their rear. If the soil is dense enough, then the worm will eat it. At night, they leave small pieces of soil as undigested waste on the surface.
In summer, they mainly live in the upper layers, and for hibernation they break through earthen burrows to a depth of 2 cm. Frosts can kill these creatures, so they prefer to hide in a safer deep place.
In the spring season, the soil is moistened by rains and, with a sufficient temperature level, they begin to show mating activity.
External structure of worms:
- individuals of an elongated shape, of average length - 10-16 cm. Sometimes there are worms from 2 to 30 cm;
- the body is divided by constrictions in the form of rings into segments, the number of which can reach 100-300;
- each segment (the first is the exception) contains small but elastic setae. With their help, the earthworm moves. There are 8-20 bristles per annular segment;
- from above the body is covered with mucus, which helps in movement and enrichment of the body with oxygen.
Under the skin is a musculocutaneous sac, consisting of annular and longitudinal muscles, and below the internal organs are located, the cavity of which is filled with fluid. It is divided by partitions according to the number of segments.
In front of the worm there is a mouth. Food in the form of rotting plant parts is swallowed by the muscular pharynx and passed into the intestines, where it is processed with the help of enzymes. Each segment is equipped with funnel tubes that receive undigested food. Then they exit through the tube at the back of the body through the anus.
The circulatory system is of a closed type. It includes the dorsal and abdominal blood vessels from which small capillaries extend.
The nervous system of the worm has two trunks, forming nodules in each segment. The brain is very poorly developed, but worms have a high ability to regenerate.
There are no sense organs, but the presence of certain skin cells gives the worms the ability to feel touch on the body and distinguish between light and darkness.
Life span and reproduction
The reproductive system is represented by female and male genitals, therefore earthworms are considered hermaphrodites. Reproduction in them occurs quickly by cross fertilization, i.e. they touch each other for a while and exchange semen. In a year, they can give birth to a hundred young individuals.
The girdle, which occupies several segments in the front of the body, acts as a genital organ. It looks like a thickening from which mucus is secreted. Eggs enter it and a cocoon is formed, the maturation of which lasts 2-3 weeks.
The worms are most active in terms of reproduction in spring and autumn, since in summer the soil is not sufficiently moist and there is very little food.
The life span of an earthworm reaches about 10 years, if they did not become food for moles or birds, they died due to excessive heat, severe frosts or the use of pesticides.
Benefits for farmers
The enormous importance of earthworms in the formation of fertile soil has been noticed for a long time.
Due to their movement inside the soil, they provide its loosening, which contributes to:
- raising nutrients to the upper layers of the earth;
- good growth of the root system;
- keeping water in the soil and protecting it from drying out;
- air circulation in the soil.
All this helps the plant in the process of growth and development, and therefore in the ripening of fruits.
Also, earthworms help the earth to recover from various adverse effects, in particular from chemical burns, restoring its structure.
Due to the gradual loss of their former properties by chernozems, landowners are looking for ways to recharge the soil. For this they use vermicompost of worms. In its structure, it is similar to black soil, so its addition, even to intact soil, will not have a negative impact, but, on the contrary, will be beneficial.
In more detail about the benefits of an earthworm - when watching a video: