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

Octolasion tyrtaeum (Savigny, 1826)
Earthworm; Woodland White Worm
Family: Lumbricidae

Photo of species

© Earthworm Research Group University of Lancashire  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10756)

Earthworm distribution in BC
Distribution of Octolasion tyrtaeum 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 25-130 mm, diameter 3-6 mm, segment number 75-150, prostomium epliobic, first dorsal pore 9/10-13/14, usually 11/12. Clitellum xxx-xxxv. Tubercula pubertatis xxxi-xxxiv. Setal pairings as in Octolasion cyaneum. Frequently setae a and/or b on xxii and occasionally on ix-xii, xiv, xvii, xix-xxiii, xxvii, xxxvii, or xxxviii are on gential tumescences and modified into gential setae. Male pores on xv and on large glandular papillae extending over xiv and xvi, occasionally limited to xv. Seminal vesicles, four pairs in 9-12, with pairs in 11 and 12 larger than pairs in 9 and 10. Spermathecae, two pairs opening on level C or between c and d in 9/10 and 10/11. Body cylindrical but slightly octagonal posteriorly. Colour variable, milky white, grey, blue, or pink.”

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: “Activity may not be year round although summer drought and winter cold may impose two rest periods. [This species] is an obligatorily parthenogenetic species (Gates, 1973a; Reynolds, 1974c) and copulation occurs below the surface of the soil.”


Reynolds (1977) provides the following habitat information for this species: “Reported from soils of pH 5.5-8.08, [this species] has been found under stones and logs, in peat, leaf mould, compost, forest litter, gardens, cultivated fields and pastures, bogs, stream banks, in springs, and around the roots of submerged vegetation (Gates 1972c). The species is also known from caves in Europe and North America. Smith (1917) reported this species as commonly found under logs, leaf mould, and debris of various kinds, in compost heaps, and to some extent, in the soil.... [This] was the most abundant species in Tennessee (Reynolds et al., 1974) and was obtained under logs, debris, and rocks, and by digging. In Ontario it was most frequently found under logs.”


Global Range

This species is reported from Europe, North America, South America, Mexico, Asia, Africa and Australia (Reynolds 1977, Reynolds and Wetzel 2008)). In the US, it is reported from AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, MT, NE, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008).
Canadian and BC Range

In Canada, this species has been reported from AB, BC, MB, NA, ON, PQ (Reynolds and Wetzel 2008). In British Columbia it has been collected from several locations in the southern part of the province, including Vancouver Island, Fort Langley, Creston, Haney, Grice Bay, and Port Alberrni (Marshall and Fender 2007).

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: 2022-08-07 3:46:41 PM]
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