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intrepidium's avatar

Are earthworms suicidal?

Asked by intrepidium (1225points) July 24th, 2011

I’ve noticed earthworms slithering about early morning on the pavement outside my house even in this hot and dry season. There are already quite a few dried up earthworm carcasses stuck there, and I would’ve thought evolution or their biological instincts or whatever would tell them it’s a far better idea to stay underground where it’ll be cooler or moister. And where were they going anyway?

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10 Answers

Paul's avatar

Sounds like it’s worm where you are… no, just me? Screw you guys.
In all seriousness Earthworms cannot adapt as they only have the natural reflexes they are born with, they can’t burrow through a concrete pavement no matter how hard they try so there instincts tell them just to try and find a spot they can burrow through (if I remember my Biology correctly).

intrepidium's avatar

What I don’t get though is what brought them above-ground to begin with? They must have come from somewhere underground coz most times when I see them, they looked wet and slimy…

Paul's avatar

@intrepidium All joking apart perhaps they came up for the vitamin D in the sunlight.

Mariah's avatar

The earthworm has no concept of the danger of hot asphalt – it hasn’t been around long enough for them to have evolved an aversion to it. That’s all I can imagine. You would still think they would understand that very hot = dangerous, though. :/

CWOTUS's avatar

We’ve had some discussion on this topic already.

marinelife's avatar

“Any type of worm is driven to the surface by disturbances in a normal environment. These include rain or lawn sprinklers, which fill worm tunnels with water and send the worms scurrying to the surface to avoid drowning. Chemicals also cause problems for the worms, irritating their skin and forcing them out of the ground to get away from the source. Some fertilizers and pesticides drive worms of their tunnels at any time of the day

Worms don’t have any eyes, but they are still sensitive to light. If a worm is exposed to light for too long, usually about an hour or more, the worm becomes paralyzed. Once it is paralyzed, the worm dies.”


intrepidium's avatar

@CWOTUS Thanks – I should have searched under Worms instead of Earthworms!

Hibernate's avatar

Maybe wanted to try something new.

john65pennington's avatar

I thought everyone already knew that you cannot get a suntan, while buried in the earth.

Earthworms give new meaning to the word…...duh !!

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Not suicidal, maybe a bit depressed because they are worms.

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