Earthworms are hermaphrodites ( her-maff-row-die-ts), which means they have both male and female sex organs. Even so, they still need to mate in order to reproduce.
Since worms can neither see nor hear, but their bodies are extremely sensitive to touch. Because of this, earthworms feel vibrations when another worm is nearby. To mate, two earthworms attach at their clitella. The clitella of each worm excretes mucus that forms a muscus tube around the worms as shown.
Sperm is produced by the male sex organs. The sperm from one earthworm moves through sperm grooves and is directed by the mucus tube so that it enters the sperm sacs of the other worm. Once each worm transfer sperm, they separate.
The female sex organ (ovary) produces eggs. The clitellum of each worm secretes more mucus which will develop into a cocoon. This mucous cocoon is pushed toward the worm’s head by body movements as well as being scrapped against things as the worm moves. As the cocoon slips over the worm’s body, it picks up the mature eggs and then the sperm (deposited by mating partner). The cocoon slips over the worm’s head and the ends close. The embryos develop within the cocoon. Inside the cocoon the sperm and eggs combine forming worm embryo which develop into baby worms.
Cocoon A protective covering made of dried earthworm slime that contains fertilized eggs. The
cocoon is deposited in or on the soil.
The eggs hatch after about two weeks. Each cocoon contains two to twenty baby worms with an average of four. Cocoons vary in size and shape and are about 1/25 to 1/3 inch long. Cocoons are laid on or near the top of the ground at one-month intervals, with each cocoon (egg capsule) containing 5 to 15 baby worms.The baby worms hatch from the cocoon after about two weeks if the cocoon is kept warm, the colder the longer it takes for the babies to hatch. The newly hatched worms are The young worms are about 12 millimetres long and light pink in colour. Some fast-maturing worms mature three to four months after hatching and will start their breeding cycle.