The limb boring worm or simply “boring worm” belongs to the Phylum Annelida. It tunnels into hard materials such as rocks and shells. While you may never witness a boring worm in action, you may notice their bodies sticking out of mollusk shells and rock cracks after they have tunneled through. The limb boring worm is a marine creature and it belongs to a Phylum that has more than 17,000 species. This segmented worm group contains everything from earthworms (more than 2,700 species) to leeches. Annelida prefer environments such as freshwater, moist terrestrial environments, and tidal zones.
There are literally thousands of different worm species and more than 2,700 species of earthworms alone on earth. Because there are so many different species of earthworms, identifying earthworms can be a challenge. This is not to say it’s impossible. There are several key characteristics used to identify 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 earthworm you may be dealing with.
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Earthworms belong to one of several different types of ecological groups. 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.
For more information about earthworms, you can download an online earthworm identification key by clicking here to visit The Backyard Nature websites key. To access an online field guide to earthworms, click here.