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

Lumbricus rubellus Hoffmeister, 1843
Earthworm; Red Marsh Worm
Family: Lumbricidae

Photo of species

© Earthworm Research Group University of Lancashire  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10699)

Earthworm distribution in BC
Distribution of Lumbricus rubellus 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 50-150 mm (usually >60), diameter 4-6 mm, segment number 70-120, prostomium tanylobic, first dorsal pore 5/6-8/9. Clitellum xxvi, xxvii-xxxi, xxxii. Tubercula pubertatis on xxviii-xxxi. Setae closely paired, AA>BC, AB>CD, DD = 1/2C posteriorly. Genital tumescences in viii-xii (less frequently on x), xx-xxiii, xxvi-xxxvi. Male pores, inconspicuous, without glandular papillae on xv. Seminal vesicles, three pairs in 9, 11, and 12+13. Spermathecae, two pairs with short ducts opening in 9/10 and 10/11. Colour, ruddy brown or red-violet and iridescent dorsally, pale yellow ventrally. Body cylindrical and sometimes dorsoventrally flattened posteriorly.”

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) indicates: “Under suitable conditons activity, including breeding, is year round. [This species] is obligatorily amphimictic (Reynolds, 1974c) and copulation, like defecation, occurs below the soil surface, or in the litter layer, at any time of day. It seems that copulation does not involve a mucous tube (Gates 1972c). This species has been cultured by the fish bait industry (Gates 1972c). It is also important in the decomposition of litter.”


This species has been reported from a variety of sites, including garden soil, undisturbed forest soil, under logs and stones, open meadow, grassland soil, farmland, under black cottonwood, and under Douglas-fir growth (Marshall and Fender 2007). Reynolds (1977) provides the following habitat information: “[This species] has been recorded from natural soils of pH 3.8-8.0 and shows a wide tolerance of habitat factors. Olson (1928, 1936) reported it from under debris. Eaton (1942) found it in stream banks, under logs, and in woody peat and stated that it seemed to require a great deal of moisture and organic matter. Cernosvitov and Evans (1947) recorded the habitats of this species as places rich in humus, abundant in parks, gardens, pastures, on river banks, under stones, moss or old leaves. Gerard (1964) also found this species frequently aggregated beneath dung in pastures as well as the sites mentioned above. In Ontario, [this species] was obtained from a wide variety of habitats. It is also know from caves in Europe.”


Global Range

Reynolds (1977) says: “[This species] is now known from Europe, Iceland, North America, Mexico, Asia, South Africa and New Zealand”. In the US it is reported from AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, FL, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008).
Canadian and BC Range

In Canada this species is reported from AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NX, ON, PE, PQ (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008). In British Columbia, this species is reported from many locations, including Sooke, Victoria, Williams Lake, Denman Island, Grice Bay, Nanaimo, Cowichan Lake, Skeen River, Roberts Creek, Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte Islands, and Vancouver (Marshall and Fender 2007). BEC zones: BG, CDF, CWH, ICH, IDF< PP, and SBS.

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: 2022-08-14 2:55:13 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

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