Worms eat any organic decaying matter, from fruits and vegetables to dead leaves and petals and yes, even dead bodies. Once your heart stops beating, you might become worm food!
Every dead body is organic and in due course is decomposed enough for the worms to eat. It is the very definition of the circle of life.
We live, we die, we return to the earth where our bodies feed the soil and its inhabitants, in order for them to feed future life in their turn. Grim, but true.
Do worms eat dead bodies?
Yes, worms do eat dead bodies.
Earthworms are not among the very first to eat bodies though. As you may know, earthworms consume all sorts of organic decaying matter within the soil, including various bacteria fungi, etc.
Eventually, the average human body starts turn into different kinds of matter that rejoin the earth and are eaten by the earthworms.
Fly larvae tend to attack soft tissues first, meaning earthworms might not be the first to start munching on a dead body.
As to when the earthworms will be able to consume the organisms stemming from a dead body, this depends on a few things.
First of all, in the case of a human burial, the coffin type will dictate how long a worm will have to wait before being able to consume the body.
For example, if the coffin is made of wood, then it shall decompose faster within the earth, and so be accessible by the earthworms quicker.
If the coffin is made of another material, like metal, for example, the decomposition process of the coffin itself will need far longer, and so the body will remain untouched by foreign life forms for longer.
Do worms get into coffins?
Worms do get into coffins, but the speed at which they can depends a great deal on the type of coffin and a few other things.
The maggots that you have heard of being on dead bodies inside of the coffin, did not simply make their way through. Maggots appear on bodies in the ground within a relatively short period of time.
Nowadays, many coffins are air-tight and so there is a lower chance of insects making their way to the body before the decomposition process has begun on its own.
How then, do maggots enter into the coffin? Well, within a few hours of death, the rotting process of the body will begin and it emanates a strong smell due to the putrefaction of the tissues. This smell attracts flies which will lay eggs on the body.
Within the ground, the fly larvae will be born and will rely for nourishment on the body inside the coffin.
Other worms, such as earthworms, will only be able to get inside of the coffin once the coffin itself has begun to decompose, and, depending on the material, this can take quite a long time.
Even wooden coffins which do decompose faster, are being made thicker nowadays, making the decomposing of the coffin take longer than was once the case.
Are Worms Man-eaters?
Don’t worry – worms aren’t likely to start nibbling on your skin until long after your embalming process.
It may seem a bit odd and even creepy to imagine tiny creatures eating our bodies after we die, but there truly is nothing creepy about it when you think it through.
Earthworms are among the most interesting creatures on earth as they do indeed eat decaying matter and they use it to create castings (worm poop), which is wonderful for nourishing the soil that feeds new life.
They are an absolutely essential part of our eco-system and the role that they play should not go unappreciated!