The Life Cycle of Vermicomposting Red Worms

Vermicomposting worms follow a similar life cycle pattern as humans: birth, growth, procreation, and death. In this article, we examine the life cycle of the popular earthworm: Red Wigglers, the Kings of Vermicomposting. These worms are distinctly different from humans when it comes to reproduction. For example, there are no “boy” red worms or “girl” red worms. We find worms fascinating and are grateful for the rich organic fertilizer that they produce from our table scraps. Red Wigglers’ Reproductive Organs Worms possess both male and female reproductive sex organs. These organs are contained in a bulbous gland called a clitellum. The clitellum is located outside the worm’s body. Although difficult for us to see, it resembles a ring. When the worm is fertile, the clitellum advertises to potential mates. That’s because it becomes visible and turns orange, a signal that all’s clear for making babies. Even though Red Worms are hermaphrodites, they do require another partner to exchange genetic material. In other words, they can’t do it alone. Reproduction the Red Wigglers Way Red Worms typically prefer to reproduce in warmer temperatures. They line up side-by-side. The clitellum of each worm secretes mucus and albumin. The worms exchange sperm. When the exchange of genetic material is complete, they separate. The act of separating causes the sperm to mix with eggs, fertilizing them. Then, the worm wiggles out of its clitellum. This forms a cocoon to safely host the fertilized eggs. As the cocoon is deposited on the ground, it automatically …

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