The earth can smell funny when it rains after a dry spell. The vapor from the ground carries with it a certain bacteria that may be beneficial when inhaled. When the rain drops hit the soil they splash the bacterial spores up and they become airborne, carrying the scent of earth with them. Another smell associated after raining is the smell of earthworms. Like the bacteria in the ground, earthworms only come out when the ground is soaked.

Why do earthworms come out after it rains?

Earthworms come out when it rains and the ground is soaked. The reason is that their skin needed to be moist before they can breathe in oxygen. They breathe through gas exchange, absorbing oxygen through their skin. When their skin dries up, earthworms find it dififcult to breathe, and will surely die.

To keep their skin from drying up, earthworms live underground because of the cool moist earth below. They also try to avoid exposure from the sun as much as possible by coming out only at night. That is why they are also called night crawlers.

Aside from dry skin and sun exposure, light senistivity is also a problem for earthworms. These earth creatures are known to become paralyzed when exposed to the light for more than an hour. This keeps them from crawling back to the safety of their burrows. This temporary paralysis also exposes them to danger, such as hungry birds looking for something to eat.

Rain Why Does it Smell Like Worms When it Rains?

Mating season?

Another reason that scientists have come up with on why earthworms come out after it rains is for reproduction. Because the rain has soaked the ground, it is easier for earthworms to travel and search for a mate. Since earthworms are notoriously known as hermaphrodites, it won’t take them much time to find another earthworm to mate with.

Richard Wahl of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania describes the mating process of earthworms as: “They breed when it rains. They come out of the ground to find each other and to lie side by side in a mating posture, a difficult thing to do in the confines of their burrows. The only time earthworms can safely come to the surface to breed is when the ground is thoroughly soaked. . . . Worms don’t have lungs.”

Worms don’t drown!

One of the myths regarding worms is that they come out of the ground when it rains to avoid drowning. This is very much untrue! Scientists have found out that earthworms can survive being underwater for many days as long as they have sufficiently dissolved the oxygen in water through their skin.

So why does it smell like worms when it rains?

The answer is: Maybe because there are too many of them on the surface to begin with. Another reason is that the same bacteria present in the soil covers the earthworms’ bodies. And yet, another reason is that the earth that earthworms have turned during their climb to the surface has released those bacteria spores.

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