There can be as many as half a million earthworms on an acre of land. The wilder field earthworms can live 4-8 years but our garden variety will live about 2 years under the right conditions. In that time they burrow and push air through their tunnels which loosens, mixes and aerates the soil. This helps the plants get to the nutrients and promotes good drainage. Chemical fertilizers may harm them, since they’re sensitive to changes in their dirt, so think about that next time you buy a nitrogen-high fertilizer at your nursery since this may prove fatal for your little friends. Give them and your garden mulch instead. As worms consume dead plant matter, they convert it into nutrients that plants can actually digest and they leave all that goodness behind in their poop. They can poop their weight in castings every day. Castings or worm poop, actually called Vermicast, is an excellent natural fertilizer for your garden and can be purchased by the bag at your local garden center. Lots of people have little earthworm farms so they can have extra castings at the ready. You can keep worms in a chest of drawers filled with composted organic matter and shredded paper. Maybe some day I’ll try it. Earthworms also provide a major food source for other critters like birds, rodents, snakes, beetles and snails. They are also a multimillion dollar international business, being imported and exported. So the next time you see an earthworm on the sidewalk, do Mother Nature a favor and plop it back in the dirt.