Earthworm, line drawing.
- Andrew Howells
- © Australian Museum
What do earthworms look like?
- 6 mm - 3000 mm in length.
- Elongated, with many segments.
- Appears soft.
- Opening for siphoning food items.
- Cerci (tail-like appendages) absent.
Where are earthworms found?
- In many habitats but the majority occupy moist well-vegetated regions.
- In soil, leaf litter, and under rocks and logs.
- Some are associated with water environments such as freshwater mud and saltwater shorelines.
What do earthworms do?
- Earthworms are solitary, though they may group together to feed and/or mate.
- When disturbed they recoil, withdraw into burrows, jump and thrash about, drop tail segments, or exude body fluids some of which are noxious.
- They feed on dead or decaying animal and plant material. Earthworms that operate in soils ingest vast volumes of soil particles with organic matter.
- Earthworms discarded waste products as castings, trails of well-digested organic material. This material maybe discarded on the soil surface, an indicator of earthworms being present.
- Some form burrows, which they exit from to grab food items.
- They are active during the day or night.
What looks similar?
- Leeches can be distinguished from earthworms as they have a large sucker at end of their body, which they use to feed and move. They are also all external parasites feeding on body fluids of hosts.