Park Authority

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday
703-324-8700 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
Jai Cole
Executive Director

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A pair of earthworms on dirtWorms are truly the unrecognized heroes of Fairfax County forests. Earthworms spend daytime underground and come out at night. These nocturnal wanderings help them stay moist (which helps them breathe) and avoid heat and light that can hurt their sensitive skin. Even though we don't usually see them, earthworms are important in the cycles of forest health.

By eating dead leaves and leaving their droppings in soil, earthworms recycle nutrients from old plants into new. Castings, or earthworm droppings, are full of nutrient-rich organic material that helps plants grow. Little openings in more than 100 segments of each earthworm's body excrete a small, steady stream of nitrogen-rich waste fluid as the worm crawls underground. Earthworms also bring nutrients to the surface and provide tunnels for air and rain to reach plant roots.

Earthworm Facts:
• A medium-sized yard has about 20,000 earthworms.
• Earthworms have five hearts.
• Each earthworm is both male and female, so every earthworm can lay eggs.
• Earthworms have bristles, or setae, to help them hold on to a tunnel in a tug-of-war with a hungry bird.

Find out more about earthworms and underground life at Park Authority Nature Centers.

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