Some “creatures” might look like worms, but there are several characteristics, both physical and habitual, that will immediately set them apart from worms. For example, caterpillars prefer to crawl along objects like branches, ropes, and wires while worms prefer to burrow into and tunnel in and out of soil. Also, caterpillars do not move like worms. They have multiple legs which enables them to crawl and climb like no other climbing herbivore on the planet. Worm movements are peristaltic. Caterpillars use passive grip to tackle the most complex objects, bending, twisting, and crumpling their way up, down, and around these objects.
Worms and caterpillars are not the only worm-like creatures that have differences. Some people are quick to confuse millipedes and centipedes with worms. The obvious differences between these creatures is the fast movement of these leggy creatures and the thousands of tiny legs attached to the body.
ATTENTION: GET PARASITE HELP NOW! At All About Worms we get a lot of questions about skin parasites, blood parasites, and intestinal parasites in humans. Because we can't diagnose you, we have put together this list of doctors and labs who understand and specialize in dealing with parasites in humans! That resource is HERE
So, if you have spotted a worm-like creature, the best thing to do is rule out that it is a worm and take it from there as there are too many creatures on the planet to identify and name here. Just think, there are more than 2,700 species of earthworm alone. So, when attempting to identify a worm or worm-like creature, there are several important steps that should be taken in order to identify them correctly. First, you should become familiar with the key characteristics used for identifying earthworms. Just a few of the characteristics used to identify earthworms include: Genital tumescene (GT), the Tubercula pubertatis (TP), and the Clitellum.
The clitellum of adult earthworms contains features called genital tumescence, and tubercula pubertatis. The clitellum features, the male pores, and female pores are found above the clitellum and are all parts of the earthworm reproductive system. The earthworm also has “setae” which are tiny hair-like projections that are arranged in rows along the earthworm body. The setae are used are used for locomotion by the earthworm. The prostomium is the earthworm mouth. The size, shape, and position of the different characteristics of the worm are different in different species of earthworms and will help you to identify the species of earthworms you may be dealing with.
After you have become familiar with earthworm characteristics, you should become familiar with the characteristics of earthworms that indicate which ecological group they belong to. There are three broad ecological groups that have been identified for earthworms including: epigeic, endogeic, and anecic. The groups are based on what the earthworms eat and where they tend to live in the soil. The epigeic group is a litter feeder, litter dweller, pigmented, small in size, and it doesn’t burrow. The endogeic group consists of rich soil feeders, topsoil dwellers, has no pigmentation, burrows horizontally, and it is small in size. The anecic consists of litter and soil feeders, soil dwellers, dorsally pigmented bodies, extensive vertical burrows, and a large size. Size and color are usually good distinguishers for adult earthworms.
|No Paywall Here!
All About Worms is and always has been a free resource. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or make you give us your email address, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to pay our research authors, and to run and maintain the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep All About Worms free?
For more information about identifying worms, you can download an online identification key for earthworms by clicking here to visit The Backyard Nature websites’ key or to access an online field guide to earthworms, click here.