What do WORMS have to do with WATERSHEDS or ECOSYSTEM HEALTH?
Worms provide a great forum from which to discuss a broad range of topics in an integrated curriculum:
- Discuss importance or worms for soil, watershed-infiltration-connection, examples of questions re: worm habitats, at different age levels
The activity outlined on this site is an ideal opportunity to use a hands-on activity to explore the questions relating to watersheds and ecosystem health.
Want to know more about worms?
Worms have been around for 120 million years. Today, some people think that worms are slimy and gross. But, long ago, Cleopatra proclaimed worms as sacred. Why do you think she thought worms were so important?
Vermes is Latin for worm. There are 4,400 species of worms and 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.
What do worms do?
Worms eat and eat and poop and poop. In doing so, they "turn" the soil over. Their tunnels add air to the soil, which is called aeration.
Their constant eating helps trees, leaves, animals, and roots "break down" faster in the soil. Not only does the soil break down with the help of worms, but it becomes even more fertile because of worms. Their poop is like fertilizer!
What do worms eat?
Worms chew up leaves, stems, dead roots, and dead animals in the soil.
What eats worms?
Birds, shrews, moles, fish (worms on hooks). What else might eat worms?
Body parts? An earthworm has body parts?
Yes! Of course they do! Let's look at where the food goes in a worm to find out what kind of body parts it has.
- Earthworms have mouths that they can open wide to fit leaves and other good things to eat. But they don't have teeth!
- The throat (pharynx) comes out of a worm's mouth to grab leaves and to pull them back into its mouth. Then the worm's saliva moistens the food.
- The food gets pushed down the esophagus next.
- Worms store this food in their crop before it gets passed down to the gizzard.
- The gizzard is where the work happens. The gizzard muscles are so strong they can grind up leaves—it's almost like teeth!
- The intestinal juices break down the ground up leaves even more.
- After the leaf is all digested, some of it will pass into the bloodstream.
- Whatever is leftover comes out the anus as castings (worm poop).