Lumbricus terrestris L. (Lumbricidae)


  • Palaearctic Origin
  • 90-300 mm x 6-10 mm
  • Dark anterior; pale, flattenable posterior
  • Anecic habit
  • Detrivorous: Leaf litter taken below ground, little soil consumed
  • No dormancy
  • Permanent burrows are up to 2.5 m deep
  • Lives 862-887 days or up to 6 years
  • Matures in 350 days
  • Obligate sexual reproduction
  • 38 cocoons per year per worm
  • Colonies spread about 3-5 m per year

Nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris) is an anecic earthworm that constructs burrows up to 2.5 m (ca 8 feet) deep.  Photograph by Jack Kelly Clark.

Middens of nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris) in an organic walnut orchard. Middens are turret-like structures of mud and vegetational litter, and sit atop burrows that can be as deep as 2.5 m (ca 8 feet). Photo by Robert L. Bugg.

Middens of nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris) in a citrus orchard. Photo by Robert L. Bugg.

As observed in San Joaquin and Solano counties, densely shaded sprinkler- or flood-irrigated walnut orchards appear especially conducive to the establishment and spread of nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris). Photo by Robert L. Bugg.