Backyard Buddies
Earthworms

Photo: Schizoform

Earthworms

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Worms have both male and female organs, but they still need another worm in order to reproduce. They lay eggs which hatch after about three weeks.

Earthworms don’t have lungs, and instead breathe through their skin!

Worms are made up almost entirely of water, and so they love to be in damp soil during the day where it is cool and moist, so that they don’t dry out or become too hot. Worms don’t have eyes but they do have light-sensitive tissues near their heads to detect light.

Earthworms don’t have teeth. Tiny stones in their gut help grind up what they eat.

There are over 300 species of native worms in Australia and many introduced species that are beneficial as well. You have much to thank your humble garden worm for.

Earthworms return nutrients to the soil from organic matter such as fallen leaves, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, hair clippings, and even old paper. These nutrients are important for you to grow happy, hardy plants.

Earthworms can eat up to half their bodyweight in organic material every day, so they can help keep your garden nice and tidy. By tunneling and burrowing away underground, earthworms aerate your soil, making it less compact and easier for water to penetrate and get to plant roots.

Avoid using chemicals or pesticides in your garden as they can enter the soil and cause your worms to become sick. If you have recently wormed your pet, collect any droppings from the garden and put them in the bin, as these chemicals can kill earthworms.

By putting your organic waste like fruit and veggie peelings, scraps, and even shredded paper in a compost or worm farm, you’re reducing rubbish sent to landfill and improving your garden soil.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The earthworm is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the earthworm, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what earthworms do and do not like.

Earthworms love:

Dead organic matter – like fallen leaves, vegetable peelings, and fruit scraps, which they pull underground and eat.

Mulch & groundcover – which keeps the soil underneath nicely cool and moist.

Night time – when they emerge from the soil to eat. They stay underground during the day so they don’t dry out.

Tunneling – to get around underground. This also aerates your soil.

But they don’t like:

Strong flavours – such as citrus, pineapples, chili, onions, garlic or shallots.

Meat, chicken or fish – earthworms are vegetarians!

Chemicals, oil or pesticides – which make them sick.

Be an earthworm buddy

Try to:

Avoid:

Don’t be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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