Redworm, Eisenia fetida

The redworm (Eisenia fetida), also known as the brandling worm, the tiger worm, the panfish worm, the trout worm, or the California worm, is a species of earth worm that is classified within the Annelida phylum. This species is native only to Europe, but it has been introduced into every country, excluding Antarctica, for vermicomposting purposes. Unlike other species of worm, the redworm does not prefer to reside in soil. It can be found in manure, rotting vegetation, and compost.

The redworm has a segmented body, with each segment holding bristles known as setae. The setae allow the worm to grip the ground and push itself forwards or backwards. If the worm is frightened or handled too roughly, it will release a pungent secretion. The worm derives it scientific name foetida, which means foul smelling, from this ability. It turns organic matter into compost and is sold by weight to farmers. It is also sold as bait, but some fishermen have reported experiencing an allergic reaction after direct contact.

As is typical to earthworm species, the redworm is hermaphroditic, but it requires two individuals to reproduce successfully. The worms join the orange bands that contain their sexual organs, or clitellums, together and share sperm. The sperm will fertilize the eggs that are released within each worm’s cocoon. These cocoons resemble lemons in shape and will change from light yellow in color to brownish as the eggs inside them develop.

Image Caption: Red wiggler. Credit: Mihai Duguleana/Wikipedia