Back to FAQ's About Worms
A. The clitellum produces a mucous sheath and nutritive material,
and as the sheath slides forward, it picks up ova from the earthworm's
ovaries then packets of sperm that had been transferred to the worm from
another worm during mating. As the clitellum sheath slides off the worm's
head, the ends are sealed to form the cocoon.
A. At first, the cocoon is quite soft. Soon after it is deposited
in the soil it becomes slightly amber, leather-like, and very resistant
to drying and damage. Cocoons are very tiny, and the shape of a lemon.
They can survive underground until conditions are right for hatching.
A. The ova within each cocoon are fertilized, and the resulting
embryos grow inside the sealed cocoon. It's similar to the way a chick
develops inside an egg. When the embryos have consumed all the nutritive
material, they completely fill the cocoon and are ready to hatch out
A. Young worms hatch from their cocoons in three weeks to five
months. The gestation period varies for different species of worms. It
also depends on conditions like temperature and soil moisture. Hatching
is delayed if conditions are poor, and cocoons may overwinter in soil
to hatch in the spring.
A. Each cocoon holds from one to twenty fertilized ova or eggs-depending
on the species and also nutrition of the adults laying them and environmental
conditions like soil moisture. Usually only a few to several young worms
successfully emerge from each cocoon.
A. Earthworms can produce between 3 and 80 cocoons per year depending
on the species. The deeper-dwelling species don't have to produce as
many cocoons because they are protected much better from predation. Surface-dwelling
species tend to produce many more cocoons.
A. Certain species could live 4-8 years. It depends on predators and environmental conditions.