We’ve all seen a worm at least once in our life, whether it’s a common earthworm or a more exotic and unique species.
These curious yet common creatures are very widespread and can commonly be found in the backyard of homes all over the world, and while many people find them gross and dislike them, birds and people who want healthy, well cared for gardens love them!
If you’re someone who wants healthy good quality soil in their garden, a good sign of this is a healthy worm population, however, some people aren’t lucky enough to attract worms naturally, so you’re going to need to find out how to attract them.
In this article, we’re going to explain what worms eat, what they drink, how they do this, and a little about the creatures in general to give you a better understanding of how they live and how to make sure they find your garden an ideal place to live.
This will help improve the quality of your soil and in turn help your plants or garden to thrive!
How Do Worms Actually Eat?
Before you learn what earthworms eat, it’s a good idea to understand how they eat in the first place. After all, worms are very different from mammals and their strange, otherworldly biology is enough for most people to be clueless about how earthworms eat at all.
Unlike some animals and insects, earthworms are fairly simple creatures despite their strange physiology and consume food by pushing food into their mouths using their bodies.
Their mouth uses various muscles in an organ called the pharynx to grip the food and start to consume it, and it also coats the food with saliva before swallowing and moving it down into the rest of the worm’s digestive system.
The food will move down the esophagus and enter the crop, which is an area of the worm’s body that food will wait until it can enter the gizzard.
The gizzard performs a job similar to teeth in humans or other animals and churns up the food, reducing it to a more manageable size and grinding it down so that the nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed.
After this, the food passes through into the intestines, where digestive enzymes are used to break down the food even more and extract and absorb the nutrients the worm needs to sustain itself and pass this into the bloodstream.
The waste material that is leftover continues to pass through the worm and is passed out of the anus, often in the form of string-like castings which can be quite recognizable particularly after wet weather or on sandy, loamy soil.
Worm poop resembles very fine sand or dirt and is actually very high in nutrients which will help your garden soil and plant life grow more healthily and stronger, which is one of the reasons why a good earthworm population can really help your garden come to life.
What do Worms Actually Eat?
Worms live underground, and they survive by eating whatever they can find, most often including dirt, microscopic fungi, bacteria, and algae as well as other opportunistic matter.
Worms that live closer to the surface of the soil may be more likely to feed on a wider range of foods such as dead plant life, rotting vegetation, dead animal matter as well as byproducts such as manure.
Worms won’t simply wait around for food to arrive, and will actively seek greener pastures with a better selection of foods to help them survive, which is why some gardens lose their worm populations and struggle to hang on to them once resources start to run low!
Worms are picky eaters and aren’t afraid to move on if your garden isn’t providing them with the sustenance they need!
To make sure you’ve got happy customers and keep your garden healthy make sure to turn over your soil semi-regularly and use compost, dead plants, leaves, and other worm-friendly foodstuffs to help the worms thrive and reproduce, and stop them wandering off.
Do Worms Eat Grass?
Worms will eat grass, however, they won’t damage live, healthy grass, so this isn’t a reason why your lawn might be getting patchy! Worms will only eat grass that is already dead, so there must be another reason for your patchy lawn, most likely a combination of overcutting it, lack of water, or extremely hot weather.
Worms don’t eat the roots of the leaves as long as they are alive and healthy. However, if you’ve wondered why that pile of leaves or grass trimmings seemed to slowly shrink and disappear, well you can thank your friendly garden worms for that!
In fact, worms are beneficial to lawns as they help aerate the soil with their tunnels and leave their poop in it which is full of leftover nutrients the grass can use to grow healthily.
Earthworms won’t eat live plants either, and much like grass, will only eat dead plants. If you’ve got leftover food such as fruit or vegetable peelings you can bury them in your compost to help attract worms and improve the soil quality significantly.
How much water do worms need, and can worms drown?
You may have noticed that when very heavy rainfall occurs, worms can often be seen above ground. This isn’t because they absolutely love the water though. It’s because the soil below the ground is flooded and the worms have been forced above ground to avoid drowning!
Worms do need water and will dry out and die in very hot conditions above ground, however too much water will cause them to die just as easily.
They don’t drink water through their mouths either but instead breathe and drink through their skin as many insects do. Their small volume to surface area ratio makes this a viable option for many insects, however, the less efficient size to surface area ratio of larger animals is what makes this a less viable option!