Earthworms use water for many things — for respiration, to keep their bodies from drying out and to make the mucus that helps them slide through the soil. When soils get dry, earthworms go into estivation. “During estivation, earthworms wrap their bodies into a tight knot to reduce the amount of surface area exposed to the soil,” explains Jacob McDaniel, lead author of a study published in Soil Science Society of America Journal. “Then they’ll seal themselves up in a chamber lined with their mucus. Inside that chamber, the humidity is higher so they don’t dry out as the soil dries.”
This article appears in the November 2013 issue of Acres U.S.A.