Nightcrawler, Lumbricus terrestris

The nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris), also known as the lob worm or the common earthworm in Britain and the dew worm in Canada, is a species of earthworm that is classified within the Annelida phylum. It is native to Europe, but has been introduced into other areas around the world. Although the species is not as abundant as other worms in its range, it is a widely known species in gardens of temperate habitats, where it moves about on the surface of the soil.

The nightcrawler can reach an average body length between 7.8 and 9.8 inches and is typically red in color. It burrows under the soil in temporary homes, resurfacing to reproduce and feed, which is an unusual trait for earthworms. This worm will pull leaves into its burrow and wait for them to decay before consuming them. It also consumes feces and dead insects. The average lifespan of this species is unknown, but it is thought to live about eight years in the wild.

The nightcrawler is thought to be a pest in some areas of its introduced range, because it is causing competition with native species of worms. However, in some areas of Europe including the northwest edge of Europe along the Atlantic Ocean, the nightcrawler is becoming endangered. This is due to predation by the Australian flatworm and the New Zealand flatworm, two accidentally introduced species. These flatworms are very resilient and persist in areas where earthworms are dwindling, because they are able to live without a stable source of food. In some areas, the soil structure is changing due to the loss of the earthworms that help sustain it.

Image Caption: Nightcrawler, Lumbricus terrestris. Credit: Michael Linnenbach/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)