Earthworms are some of the most well-known invertebrates. They belong to the Phylum Annelida and the Class Oligocheata. Earthworms are extremely important in terrestrial ecosystems where they help the recycling of organic material and enrich the soil.
Earthworms can be found at the soil surface or deeper within the soil. At the surface they eat organic matter such as dead leaves and other vegetation. Not only do they eat the dead leaves but they also digest the bacteria and fungi that can be found on the organic matter. Earthworms that live deeper within the soil ingest the soil and digest the fungi and bacteria that can be found within the soil.
It is a popular misconception that, if an earthworm is cut in half, it will result in two earthworms. This is not the case, earthworms are capable of recovering from severe injuries but the result will still only be one worm (and a dead piece of worm) rather than two worms.
A photograph of the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris.
Other names for (or types of) Earthworm include:
Related groups of terms
Back to Glossary
If you have found this glossary useful please consider supporting the Amateur Entomologists' Society by becoming a member or making a donation.