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How to Identify Earthworm Eggs in Soil

By Eva Talent ; Updated September 21, 2017
A young earthworm can produce as many as 1,600 offspring per year.

Earthworms lay eggs inside amber-colored cocoons their bodies produce. Premature eggs that come out of their protective cocoons will shrivel and die. Eggs hatch inside the cocoon, and the cocoon itself becomes a protective egg for the baby worms inside. After about three weeks, each cocoon generally hatches between two and 20 baby earthworms. Some species of earthworm can produce up to 80 cocoons per year. Earthworms can live for up to eight years, but most are eaten or killed long before they become old. The average lifespan of an earthworm is less than one year.

Hold a magnifying glass over the suspected earthworm cocoon. Do not allow sunlight to enter the magnifying glass and project on to the cocoon for any length of time. Doing so could cause damage to the cocoon or cause death to the baby earthworms inside. Instead, look through the magnifying glass and adjust it so the cocoons appear magnified.

Gauge the size of the suspected cocoon. Earthworm cocoons are generally about 1 cm long.

Identify the color of the suspected cocoon. Earthworm cocoons are white when they are new and turn amber in color after several hours.

Determine the shape of the suspected cocoon. Earthworm cocoons are generally shaped like lemons, although some are teardrop-shaped.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Magnifying glass

Tip

  • Cover the earthworm cocoons with soil after discovering them to keep them safe from predators and weather conditions.

Warnings

  • Eggs that come out of their cocoons will die and decompose within a matter of hours. They are white globules that are the same size as the head of a pin.
  • Leave earthworm cocoons undisturbed in the soil if possible. Moving or otherwise disrupting them can kill the earthworms inside.

About the Author

 

A professional writer since 1994, Eva Talent was trained as a journalist by the U.S. Army. She received two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal for journalistic excellence. Her press releases are frequently featured on the websites of the Department of Defense and the Army. Talent holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Michigan.