Are Angle Worms Blind; and do they Subsist on a Diet of Earth?

Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.

Professor Howe, like all teachers, was frequently plied with questions by mail, and often the interrogator forgot to enclose a stamp for reply. This interesting answer reminds us that nothing was too lowly in the scale of life to merit Professor Howe's interest. Short and pithy as the reply is, yet how many physicians could have framed as interesting and instructive an essay upon the earth-worm? Are we forgetting about other creatures than man? The paucity of such material in medical journals inclines us to wish that some one would raise up another Howe for this purpose.—Ed. Gleaner.

ARE ANGLE WORMS BLIND; AND DO THEY SUBSIST ON A DIET OF EARTH?—These questions came to me by letter, and in reply I will say that the earth-worm—lumbricus terrestris—is blind as a mole; and eats nothing but dirt or soil rich in organic debris. After the nutritious matter is absorbed the residue is deposited in coils or pellets near the surface of the ground. Boys who use earthworms to bait hooks to catch fish always seek lumbrici in the dirt of chip yards or in the damp earth near a sink drainage. Earthworms are rarely found in dry sands or gravelly soil.

In the autumn earth-worms descend to deep recesses in the ground, and return to the vicinity of the surface in the early spring. During a shower of rain in summer they leave their burrows and venture along the surface of the ground. In passing through soft mud they leave a trail which may be easily traced. It is then that birds and frogs gobble them up. They have no weapons of defense —no blind worms sting. They respire through the skin. They are not hermaphrodites, but reproduce in pairs.—HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.

The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.