Do worms have eyes? And other worm facts

Hands holding earthworms
Worms: not as simple as they look (Photo: iStock.com/brittak)

You have to agree that wriggly worms are just wonderful! They eat dead plants in the soil and turn them into the nutrients other plants need to grow. Their poo is a great fertiliser! They also turn the soil over so more air and water can get in. In short, they’re amazing!

Here are some other fascinating facts about worms.

Do worms have eyes?

Not really. Instead, they have cells that can sense whether it’s light or dark, so they can tell when they’re underground or above ground.

Do worms have brains?

Yes! Though worm brains aren’t as complex as human brains.

Each worm’s brain sits next to its other organs, and connects the nerves from the worm’s skin and muscles, controlling how it feels and moves.

Do worms have mouths, and how do they eat?

Worms have strong, muscular mouths, but no teeth.

They eat lots of different foods, and like to tuck into decaying vegetation, dead animals and even some living organisms! But they also love to munch through fruit rind, egg shells and tea bags, as well as vegetable peelings and soil. However, they don’t like meat, dairy products and bones, and they’re not keen on onions, garlic or citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

How do worms breathe?

Through their skin – but only if it’s kept moist. That’s because it’s covered in mucus that helps them absorb oxygen. This is why they prefer to stay underground and come out when it’s been raining.

Can worms drown?

Worms can survive underwater for several weeks as their skin can absorb oxygen from the water. But they can’t swim, so they need to be able to get out of the water eventually, otherwise they’ll die.

Do worms regenerate?

If a worm gets cut in half, it will regrow. But that only applies to the bit with the head, and only if it gets cut below the swollen band. The tail bit can’t grow a new head so it will just die. But getting cut in half is very painful, and worms are much happier whole!

How do worms move?

Worms may look smooth, but if you inspect them closely with a magnifying glass you’ll see that their bodies are covered with lots of tiny bristles, which help them to move. The bristles also allow them to grip surfaces, which means they can climb!

Do worms have hearts?

Yes – in fact, they have five hearts! Calling them hearts is probably stretching it a bit though as they’re nowhere near as complicated as human hearts. They do squeeze blood around the worm’s body though.

Worm charming – tempting worms out of the soil

You can make worms come to the surface by causing vibrations in the ground. The most popular technique is to shove a garden fork in the soil and hit it with a stick.

However, at the World Worm Charming Championships (yes, really!), which is held each June in Cheshire, people try all sorts of things, including tap dancing on a plank and playing the xylophone! The world record is 567 worms in 30 minutes, by the way.

Want to study worms at close quarters? Then why not make your own wormery? You can find the instructions in our garden wildlife blog (scroll down to find the bit about worms).

Have you made a wormery, or even managed to charm some worms? Tell us about it and post your pictures on our Facebook page, or on Instagram or Twitter using #NatureDetectives.

Share your favourite worm facts

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