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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... worms.


CURWOOD: As spring kicks in, those voracious critters, Lumbricus terrestris, are back in force in your lawn, or after a shower on the sidewalk. Worms may not be much to look at, but throughout history they have dug up their share of compliments. Aristotle called them the intestines of the soil. Cleopatra declared them sacred. And Charles Darwin wondered whether any other single creature played so important a role in life on Earth. The kudos are well-earned for worms, as they are some of the most efficient animals around. Each day they reprocess their own body weight in soil and organic matter. And they're hermaphroditic, so they all have male and female sex organs and can give birth. Still unimpressed? Well, consider the Ecuadorian earthworm, then, which can grow to be 8 feet and weigh more than a pound. Today worms are behind the boom in verma-composting. In just one week a thousand tiny worms can churn as much as 5 pounds of kitchen scraps into a rich mulch. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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