Great Lakes Worm Watch

Worm Identification »

Learn Worm Anatomy and Biology

General Earthworm Diagram

The clitellum of adult earthworms contains features called genital tumescence, tubercula pubertatis. The clitellum features and the male pores and female pores found above the clitellum and are all parts of the earthworm reproductive system. The prostomium is the earthworm mouth. The setae are tiny hair-like projections that are arranged in rows along the earthworm body and are used for locomotion by the earthworm. The size, shape and position of all these things are different in different species of earthworms and will help you to identify the species of earthworms you have.

Adult Markings

  • Genital tumescene (GT)
  • Tubercula pubertatis (TP)
  • Clitellum

Ventral View = underside
Lateral View = sideview
Dorsal View = backside


General Anatomy

Dorsal view of prostomium
Clitellum Shapes Setal pairing arrangements
Examples of GT and TP

Tail shapes (dorsal view)

Illustrations provided by Canada Worm Watch.


Worm Related Links - for more information on earthworm biology

Canada Worm Watch

The goal of Canada Worm Watch, like Minnesota Worm Watch, is to survey as much of Canada, as possible, for earthworms and the habitats they inhabit. The site is full of great scientific information on earthworms and also has some tantalizing recipes for you to experiment with.

New Zealand Flatworms

In a strange twist, New Zealand flatworms, that feed on earthworms, have found their way to areas of England and Scotland where earthworms are native. They cause rapid decreases in the native earthworm populations which are important parts of their ecosystems. This can create problems for them just like putting earthworms into ecosystems where they are not native has been causing problems for us. It has been suggested that these might be used to help solve our problem, but farmers and gardeners in our region who rely on the actions of earthworms to keep their soil healthy may not like that idea. We need to consider the action of introducing another exotic species very carefully before to actually do anything. The idea of using one organisms to control another is called "biological control."

To find out more visit the Biological Control Virtual Information Center.

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