The Lob Worm (aka Common Earthworm) can be found in a range of colours from brown to purplish-red above through to yellow-orange below. They appear to be segmented, with a pointed head end and a fatter, flatter paddle-shaped tail end. They are Britain’s largest earthworm and the only deep-burrowing species found in the UK.
Lob Worms make and live in permanent vertical burrows in the soil not only incorporating nutrients into shallow and deep soil, but also preventing soil erosion, improving soil aeration, drainage and stimulating plant growth!
Size: Up to 35cm in length
Life span: Up to 20 years
Diet: Lob Worms drag leaves up to five meters below the surface, feeding off the ferment from the fungi that grow on them underground.
Reproduction: Lob Worms are hermaphrodite and reproduce sexually with individuals mutually exchanging sperm. Each individual will lay up to 5 eggs per year.
When to see: More active above ground at night and during wet weather.
Population Trend: Unsure, but anecdotally thought to be declining.
Threats: Modern farming practices, pesticides, plastic pollution, introduction of invasive non native species (ie. New Zealand Flatworm & Obama Flatworm).
Fun Fact: The first segment of the worm is where you’ll find the worms mouth, but no teeth. Like birds worms have a crop and a gizzard which is hard and muscular, grinding their food down so it can be digested.
World Earthworm Day is the 21st October each year, so if like us you love worms don’t forget to celebrate why #EarthwormsAreImportant with us!
How you can help:
While little can be done to eradicate existing invasive species threats to the Lob Worm, more can be done to prevent further non-native wildlife threats arriving. Be vigilant, know what to look out for and help us map flatworm distribution across the UK by uploading your sightings to our PotWatch recording scheme.You can also find out more about flatworms and the risk non-native flatworms pose to our native earthworms.
Find out more about British earthworms in our blog “Glorious Earthworms” written by Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow.
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