E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Dendrobaena octaedra (Savigny, 1826)
Earthworm; Octagonal-Tail Worm
Family: Lumbricidae

Photo of species

© Earthworm Research Group University of Lancashire  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10715)

Earthworm distribution in BC
Distribution of Dendrobaena octaedra in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)


The earthworms of British Columbia are a little known faunal group. We would like to thank the Royal Ontario Museum for providing permissions to use extracts, including illustrations, from the following publication in the atlas pages: Reynolds, John W. 1977. The Earthworms (Lumbricidae and Sparganophilidae) of Ontario. Thanks also to John Reynolds for provision of substantial information on earthworms and review of the atlas pages.

Species Information

Click on the image(s) below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon.

Illustration Source: Reynolds, John W. 1977. The Earthworms (Lumbricidae and Sparganophilidae) of Ontario. Life Science Miscellaneous Publications, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

This is an introduced European species of earthworm. Reynolds (1977) provides the following description for it: “Length 17-60, diameter 3-5 mm, segment number 60-100, prostomium epilobic, first dorsal pore 4/5-6/7. Clitellum xxvii, xxviii, xxix-xxxiii, xxxiv. Tubercula pubertatis usually on xxxi-xxxiii. Setae widely spread, AA=BB=CD and DD is slightly greater. On xvi setae a or b are found on small genital tumescences. Male pores on xv surrounded by small, often indistinct, glandular papillae. Seminal vesicles in 9, 11, and 12. Spermathecae, three pairs with long ducts on level with setae d opening in 9/10-11/12. Body cylindrical, with posterior portion octagonal. Colour, red, dark red to purple.”

Source: Reynolds, John W. 1977. The Earthworms (Lumbricidae and Sparganophilidae) of Ontario. Life Science Miscellaneous Publications, Royal Ontario Musuem, Toronto, with permission.


Species Biology

Reynolds (1977) provides the following biological information for this species: “Under suitable conditions activity, including breeding, is possible the year round. In Maine...there are two breeding periods. The species is said to be surface living, the upper layers being abandoned only for aestivation and hibernation. Feeding is selective and sand and rock particles are rarely found in the intestine. Parthenogenic polymorphism is widespread [in this species], probably more so than in any other lumbricid...In Russia (Kursk), [this species] has been regarded as an important converter of leaf substances and it is believed mainly responsible for the decomposition of oak leaves (Gates 1972c).” In France, where these worms can be found crawling on bare rocks, the viscous trails are thought to play a role in trapping lichens and triggering lichen-moss-vascular plant succession (Ribaucourt and Combault 1906).


Reynolds (1977) provides the following habitat information for this species: “According to Gates (1972), Dendrobaena octaedra is found in soils with a pH of 3.0-7.7, mostly in sites little affected by cultivation. Murchie (1956), from his studies in Michigan, characterized three types of habitat for the species: in sod or under moss on streambanks, under logs and leafy debris, or in cool, moist ravines and upland seepage areas. Gerard (1964) found it in soil high organic matter. These are the types of habitats in which it has been found in Ontario. In Europe, [this species] has been found on mountain tops and in caves, and it is known from botanical gardens and arboretums in Europe and North America.”


Global Range

Reynolds (1977) says: “A native of Palaearctis, [this species] is now known from Europe, North America, Colombia, Mexico, and Asia. This restriction of a peregrine lumbricid to the Norhern Hermisphere is unusual (Gates 1972c). Also known from Iceland.” In the US, it is reported from AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008).
Canadian and BC Range

In Canada this species is reported from AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, PQ, SK, YT (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008). In BC, it has been collected from several locations, including: Terrace, Fraser Valley, near Prince George, Grice Bay, Golden, and Squamish (Marshall and Fender 1977).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-08-19 9:53:30 AM]
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