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Earthworm movements within the Earth create burrows that encourage the passage of air and loosening of the soil. Although eradicating earthworms in areas they have already invaded is virtually impossible in practical terms (the measures that wipe out earthworms, such as spraying with pesticides, also kill many other species), we can all help protect as-yet un-invaded ecosystems by keeping worms out of such areas. If you use earthworms for composting and live in a region near forests that have not been hit by earthworms, you can help by dropping use of the worms.
If you use earthworms for bait fishing, don’t dump leftover worms onto the soil at the end of a day’s fishing.
It’s ignorant to thing worms, especially earthworms, are anything but helpful and essential to happier soil. Lacking lungs or other specialized respiratory organs, earthworms breathe through their skin.

They grow sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year. Full size for an earthworm varies among species, ranging from less than half an inch long to nearly 10 feet. The glaciers that crawled across Canada into the northern tier of the lower 48 states during the most recent ice age wiped out earthworms in those areas. The earthworm’s digestive system is a tube running straight from the mouth, located at the tip of the front end of the body, to the rear of the body, where digested material is passed to the outside. The northern forest evolved after the glaciers retreated, yielding an ecosystem that does not benefit from earthworms. These forests require a deep layer of slowly decomposing leaves and other organic matter called “duff” that overlays the soil. In some areas, oak forests have been overrun by buckthorn, and in others the presence of earthworms has allowed the invasion of Japanese barberry.

Earthworm burrows also may speed the passage of water through forest soil, another change that might be a benefit to farmland or a garden with compacted soil but that is a negative in a northern forest. Also, to avoid spreading earthworm eggs when fertilizing with composted materials, freeze your compost for at least a week before using it—freezing will kill eggs as well as the worms.

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