Animal Poachery

Spider Earthworm Cockroach

Ξ Poem Earthworm Notes Song ♫
© 1983..2009 by Andreas Wittenstein. Some rights reserved. (CC)

wiggle, squiggle, squirm, wriggle, jiggle, twist, turn, whirl, swivel, twist, twirl: Earthworms are built of hundreds of ring-shaped segments, each with a set of longitudinal muscles that contract to shorten and thereby thicken that segment or one side of that segment, and a circular muscle that constrict and thereby lengthen the segment. This construction gives the earthworm extraordinary flexibility and elasticity, enabling it to wiggle, squiggle, squirm, and all the other wriggly verbs of the poem.

tingle: Lacking eyes, ears, and nose, earthworms rely on extraordinarily sensitive skin to sense their environment.

riddle the earth: Some (endogeic) species of earthworm continuously tunnel through the soil as they eat it, riddling it with holes.

dig: Earthworms dig mainly by peristalsis, a wave of alternating contraction and relaxation of its longitudinal and circular muscles that passes along its body, much like the peristaltic motion of your oesophagus when you swallow. By shortening and thickening the tail to wedge it in the tunnel and anchoring it in the soil with rings of setae (bristles), and then constricting the forward segments to lengthen them, the worm pushes forward through the soil. By then anchoring its head and relaxing the aft circular muscles, it can bring up its rear. Because each circular muscle can act as a sphincter to completely seal off a segment of fluid in its gut (coelom), the worm can build up formidable hydrostatic pressure to convert its head into a turgid battering ram.

the turf you churn: The digging action of earthworms tills and aerates the soil.

slip: The earthworm's entire skin secretes lubricating mucus to help it slip through the soil and out of the grasp of predators.

angler: Earthworms are a favorite fishing bait, because their constant wiggling attracts fish.

firm grip: If the the earthworm's grip on the earth is strong enough and the grip of an angler, bird, mole, fox, or other predator is too strong, that end of the earthworm will tear off and be regenerated.

return to your berth: Some (anecic) species of earthworm, such as the giant Lumbricus terrestris, build permanent vertical burrows through the soil, often two meters deep, the walls lacquered with mucus against cave-in. After emerging at night to feed on the duff, they return each day to their homes to avoid predators and the sun's ultraviolet light.

jungle's warm earth: Adult earthworms cannot survive frost, and are believed to have become extinct in northern latitudes during the last ice age. In temperate regions with seasonal frost, earthworms hibernate below the frost line. Earthworm cocoons, however, can resist frost and drought. The cocoon is formed from a slimy sheath secreted by the hermaphroditic earthworm's collar (clitellum) after mating, which the earthworm then fills with its eggs and its partner's sperm, sloughs off over its head, and seals.

For more information on earthworms, see the Wikipedia Earthworm article.

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