wjfarm

The Third Gender

In Creatures on May 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

worm farm

“without the work of this humble creature who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible” (Charles Darwin)

Eisenia fetida, known under various common names such as redworm, brandling worm, panfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, and red wiggler, is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. At The Farm at Walker Jones we raise these worms to produce vermicasts which is the end-process of the breakdown of organic matter by these worms which acts as a super fertiliser. We either add the vermicompost directly to our crop rows, or use it as our potting soil for germinating our seedlings.

As with other earthworm species, Eisenia fetida is hermaphroditic, possessing both male and female sexual organs however two worms are still required for reproduction. The two worms join clitellums, the large orangeish bands which contain the worms’ reproductive organs, and which are only visible during the reproduction process. The two worms exchange sperm. Both worms then secrete cocoons which contain several eggs each. These cocoons are lemon-shaped and are pale yellow at first, becoming more brownish as the worms inside become mature. It takes about two weeks for the up to 12 young to emerge.

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