Do Worms and Earthworms Eat Dirt? (Interesting Facts)

Worms may not be one of the attractive animals you’ll see. However, their lives and how they live are quite fascinating for a curious mind. Thus, many people continue to ask questions about these animals. For instance, what do they eat? Since they always stay beneath the ground, do they eat what they consider their homes? Thus, it begs the question:

Do worms and earthworms eat dirt? Yes, worms and earthworms do eat dirt, and that’s where they get the nutrients they need. They find all the nutrition they need in the soil. Among these things are decaying roots, leaves, and other living organisms. They also feed on decomposing remains of other animals in the ground.

Since worms and earthworms stay underground, they need to find food in it as well. They take all their nutrition in things found in dirt. While it’s not the soil they eat, they do take what’s in it.

Worms are genuinely fascinating in many ways. If you’re curious to know more about these animals, read on. Below are all the relevant questions you may also probably ask about the topic.

Let’s get into it more!

Do all worms and earthworms eat soil?

Not all worms eat soil, but all earthworms do. Since earthworms remain in the ground, the earth is their home and food as well.

The soil is where worms can move around freely. It gives them the moisture they need for their skin. It also renders protection against the sunlight. Most importantly, the soil provides all the nutrients and food they need.

Since worms only live in the ground, it’s also the only place where they can look for food. In the soil, all kinds of microorganisms and nutrients are present.

For this reason, worms would never run out of nutrients in it. For instance, soil comes with things such as decaying roots and leaves. It comes with living organisms such as nematodes, protozoans, rotifers, bacteria, and fungi.

Sometimes, the ground also has buried animals. Its decomposing body also provides an ample amount of nutrients to worms.

The great thing about this is that as worms eat dirt, they also poop rich soil, which is excellent for growing plants. Thus, many farmers want many worms in their ground.

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Do worms need dirt?

Yes, worms do need dirt, and it’s crucial for their survival. As I said earlier, worms need ground because it does three important things for them.

In general, it offers protection, helps them breathe, and provides food and nutrition.

Dirt offers protection

Worms need dirt because it protects them from many things. First, it protects them from direct sunlight.

Without the dirt, worms would have their bodies exposed in direct sunlight. In a matter of minutes, they can dry out and die.

Thus, they have light and dark receptors. When they get to the surface, the receptors tell them they need to go down or else they will dry out.

Dirt helps them breathe through moisture

Worms also need dirt because it allows them to breathe by providing a moist surface.

Since dirt underground has a moist texture, it keeps them from getting dry. Worms need to stay moist since it’s their way to breathe.

If they get dry, it will lead to suffocation, and they will die in a matter of minutes.

Dirt provides food and nutrition

Lastly, since worms stay in the dirt, it’s also the only place where they can find food and nutrition. Lucky for them, the soil has all the things they need.

In the dirt, all kinds of microorganisms and nutrients come with it. Worms get nutrients, not in the soil per se, but the things in it.

Thus, it would be best to let worms stay in the dirt and never take them out of it. Within a matter of minutes, their lives can be in danger if they are not on the soil.

worms and dirt

Do worms poop dirt?

Yes, worms do poop dirt, and they release a rich soil that’s ideal for the growth of plants and many other things.

When worms eat dirt, they only digest the things their body needs. The leftover soil particles and undigested organic matter pass out of their bodies.

The rectum and anus release it in small soil droplets that we call castings, or simply worm poop.

Worm poop is easily identifiable due to its dark, moist, and soil-colored appearance. Castings are rich in nutrients that are ideal for a plant’s growth.

For this reason, farmers and gardeners like their soil to have many worms in it. In essence, the worms act like they are tilling the ground for improved growth.

Will worm die without soil?

Yes, worms will die without soil. As I said earlier, the ground is crucial in a worm’s survival. Within a few minutes, worms can fail if they are away from the soil.

Worms breathe through secreting moisture from their bodies. The humidity that surrounds their bodies helps them live.

Moreover, the soil also protects them from getting exposed to direct sunlight.

If worms get out of the soil, they will expose their bodies to sunlight. In a matter of minutes, they will dry out and die.

Moreover, if you put them somewhere without soil, the moisture they secrete would transfer to the surface where they crawl. It will also cause worms to run out of fluid and die.


Worms are fascinating creatures, and they can surprise us with fascinating facts. One of these is how vital dirt is for them and what they do with it in return.

The dirt or soil, whatever you call it, is crucial for their survival. It gives worms protection, moisture, and food. Thus, they won’t survive without it for a prolonged time.

In return, they produce rich soil that is perfect for plants’ growth. Thus, many farmers and gardeners like to have many worms in their ground. More worms mean richer soil.

Thus, it would be best to leave worms where they are and not take them away from the soil. It will benefit both parties in many ways.


Image credits – Canva

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