Biological and Reproduction Cycle of Redworms
The Redworm injests food at the anterior [front], by way of a soft mouth with a lip that can seize or hold whatever the worm is trying to consume. The throat, or "phraynx", can be pushed out to help pull matter in. Redworms have no teeth and they coat their food with saliva and this makes it softer and easier to break down. After the food particle is swallowed, it will pass through the esophagus to the crop and then into the gizzard, then small stones will grind it up. The food is then passed into the intestine, this is almost as long as the worm itself. At the end of the intestine comes the anus, and this is where the castings are discharged.
Earthworm Anatomy II
Morphology of Earthworm
Reproductive System of Earthworm
Anatomy of Earthworm
Excretory System of Earthworm
Worms have a brain and they have five hearts. They have no eyes nor ears but they are highly aware of vibrations in the ground or in your compost bin. They cannot survive very long under bright lights or the sun. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause extreme harm and, eventually, death to redworms. Exposure to strong sunlight for one hour causes partial-to-complete paralysis and after several hours, will be fatal. A redworm breathes when oxygen from air or water is absorbed through its moist skin entering the blood capillaries. If the redworm's body dries out, it will suffocate.
Redworms require two worms to reproduce. They are hermaphroditic. When two redworms mate, they line up in opposite directions near the band [clitellum] around their body, this contains some of the reproductive organs. The redworms remain attached for a period of about 15 minutes, while they exchange sperm cells. A couple of days later, the eggs are encircled by the sperm cells and develop a cocoon, or an egg case. The cocoon then detaches itself from the worm and fertilization then takes place. An egg cocoon generally contains between 2 - 5 baby redworms.
"Wormy Style" (Earthworms Having Sex)
Live Worm Birth Hatching From A Worm Cocoon
Baby redworms will stay in their cocoon for a minimum of 3 weeks, sometimes more, it will depend on the conditions in the worm bin. For instance, if your worm bin is at the low end of the temperature range, the baby redworms could stay in the cocoon for many more weeks, until the weather warms up. Raising your redworms inside of a heated structure - like an apartment, or even in a warm garage, in cold weather, the babies would hatch as if it were warm weather. When the baby worms do hatch, they are very minute - like the diameter of a piece of thread and only 1/4" in length. Generally, baby redworms will appear white, as they have not developed any pigmentation, or they do not have enough pigmentation (or blood) to be visible.
In reproducing, two redworms approach each other nose to tail. Bodies touching, they move past and against each other until their heads are somewhat past the clitellum. Both redworms eject sperm by way of an opening located between their head and their clitellum, into a receptacle in the other redworm. The two redworms then separate. The clitellum secretes a mucus fluid that solidifies into an adjustable tube. As the tube gets longer, the worm reverses out of it. Soon the tube enfolds the front part of the worm. The worm lays a some eggs inside the tube, stores some of the stored sperm, and backs off from the tube, leaving the eggs and sperm inside. The ends of the tube get nipped off to form a cocoon, and then everything shrinks to a neat package that's about the size of a plump grain of rice. The cocoon is then left on or just below the surface of the soil. The redworm will continue to produce cocoons until their sperm is exhausted. Cocoons are tenacious, can do very well in cold climates, and can easily endure hot dry spells in hot, dry environments. In about 3 weeks or a little longer, the cocoon opens, and out ventures the next hardworking baby redworms.