The earthworm mates in May – so turn off the lights in the garden

The earthworm mates in May – so turn off the lights in the garden

2023-05-13 20:12:00

mating season
Hours of sex on the lawn – how gardeners make earthworms happy

The earthworm only gets in the mood when it is dark. The lights in the garden should be turned off at night so that the animals can take care of their offspring in peace.

© Agefotostock / Imago Images

The earthworm is very persistent during lovemaking. In the current mating season, gardeners can help the useful animals with a few simple tricks.

It’s a few centimeters long, a bit slimy and is downright revered by hobby gardeners: the earthworm. Because this animal continuously produces the very best compost and fertilizer. Anyone who has a lot of earthworms in the garden can hope for good fruit and vegetable harvests, because the quality of the soil is top. Plants can grow in it.

So it’s not so far-fetched when gardeners ask themselves how they can do something good for the little hard-working garden helpers. There is currently an opportunity to do so, as the German Wildlife Foundation points out. Because, as the animal experts write in a press release: “May is the mating season for earthworms.”

The advice is that it should be nice and dark in the garden at night so that the animals can reproduce eagerly. The animals suffer “under constant night lighting”. The garden and terrace lighting should therefore remain switched off “at least during the mating season in May”. If it is too bright and there is too much artificial light at night, worms apparently have little desire for sex. You can already guess what fatal consequences the listlessness of earthworms can have for the coming vegetable harvest.

The earthworm feels how light it is on his skin

But how do earthworms even notice if it’s nice and dark? Although they cannot see, they can sense whether it is light via the light-sensing cells on their skin. UV light doesn’t work at all in the world of worms. If only for fear of drying out.

It is no wonder that they are “light-shy fellows”, as the nature conservation association Nabu describes it, since earthworms spend most of their lives in the soil, where they constantly produce fertilizer and loosen the soil.

But at mating time they have to crawl to the surface of the earth – the only way to find a partner for the extended lovemaking. According to the German Wildlife Foundation, the animals can now actually be counted on the ground during the mating season when it is dark: 50 earthworms per square meter of lawn therefore indicate good soil. “Everything below is expandable.”

If you actually want to count the worms in the dark, you should not use a normal flashlight, but a red light flashlight that is not that bright.

Equipped in this way, you might then be able to watch the lovemaking of the worms on the domestic lawn: earthworms do not differ between males and females. They are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both testicles and ovaries. This makes finding a partner a lot easier than with many other animal species.

In love, the inconspicuous worms are very persistent: “Coupling often lasts several hours,” observed the Nabu. The animals lie down next to each other with their heads pointing towards the tail end of their partner. They cling to each other with special bristles. Finally, each worm then pushes its seed into the other’s seed pouch. The fertilized eggs are eventually laid in a kind of cocoon in the ground.

By the way, there is no “one” earthworm. More than 3000 species have been counted worldwide, in Germany more than 40. And the most common species here is the dewworm.

Also, the name “earthworm” doesn’t come from the rain. In earlier centuries, the animal was called “active worm” because it is constantly moving, i.e. constantly doing something and boring itself through the earth.

A lot of strength is required for this “brisk” activity. According to animal experts, earthworms can lift 60 times their body weight. If you put their strength in relation to their size, they are “among the strongest animals in the world”.

Sources: German Wildlife Foundation, Nabu

Read at stern+: Garden, gazebo and balcony – soon we will be able to move outside again. But how is it really nice there? We asked well-known designers to show us their favorite places outside.

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