Earthworms of India

  • The earthworm fauna of India is well reported as compared to other Asian Countries. Presently, 449 valid species / subspecies of earthworms under 71 genera are known from the Indian territory, including the islands of Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep.

Sl No. Family Genus (No) *Species (No)
1. Acanthodrilidae 03 43
2. Almidae 02 5
3. Eudrilidae 01 1
4. Lumbricidae 09 16
5. Megascolecidae 14 149
6. Moniligastridae 03 83
7. Ocnerodrilidae 08 17
8. Octochaetidae 30 134
9. Rhinodrilidae 01 1
  Total Families : 9 71 449
*Species incertae sedis: 8
  • The scientific exploration of earthworm’s diversity in India dates back to the nineteenth century.
  • The credit for naming the first earthworm species in the Indian subcontinent goes to Templeton (1844) when he discovered Megascolex caeruleus from Sri Lanka.
  • Subsequent noteworthy contributions on the taxonomy of Indian earthworm are those of Bourne (1886), Beddard (1902), Michaelsen (1907, 1910), Stephenson (1914, 1915, 1917, 1923), Aiyer (1929), Gates (1937, 1938, 1938, 1939, 1939, 1942, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1972), Jamieson (1977), Julka (1976, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1988), Senapati et al. (1990) and Julka and Paliwal (1993, 1994). Paliwal and Julka (2005), Verma and Yadav (2010), Yadav (2011, 2016), Vishwakarma and Yadav (2017) have provided comprehensive checklists for earthworms of different regions of India.
  • Endemism, both at genera and species level, is very high; about 71% of genera and 89% of species are endemic. It is estimated that as many as 45 exotic species have been brought to India and mostly belongs to union-territory from other Zoogeographical realms.
  • The earthworm fauna of India is well reported as compared to other Asian Countries.The most diverse families of earthworm species in India Megascolecidae comprise 149 species (119 native) of 14 genera; Octochaetidae with 134 species (129 native) of 30 genera and Moniligastridae with 83 species (all native) of 3 genera. Especially diverse earthworm genera of India belongs to Moniligastridae Drawida (71 species); the Megascolecidae Perionyx (46 species) and Megascolex (33 species); the Acanthodrilidae Plutellus (41 species) the Octochaetides Eutyphoeus (23 species), Haplochaetella (19 species) and Octochaetona (15 species).
Family Genus Number of Valid Species
Acanthodrilidae Microscolex One
Acanthodrilidae Plutellus Forty One
Acanthodrilidae Pontodrilus One
  Total Forty Three
Almidae Progizzardus One
Almidae Glyphidrilus Four
  Total Five
Eudrilidae Eudrilus One
  Total One
Lumbricidae Allolobophoridella One
Lumbricidae Aporrectodea Three
Lumbricidae Bimastos One
Lumbricidae Dendrobaena Two
Lumbricidae Dendrodrilus One
Lumbricidae Eisenia Two
Lumbricidae Eiseniella One
Lumbricidae Lumbricus Three
Lumbricidae Octolasion Two
  Total Sixteen
Megascolecidae Amynthas Thirteen
Megascolecidae Comarodrilus One
Megascolecidae Kanchuria Four
Megascolecidae Lampito Eight
Megascolecidae Megascolex Thirty three
Megascolecidae Metaphire Ten
Megascolecidae Nelloscolex Two
Megascolecidae Notoscolex Ten
Megascolecidae Perionyx Fifty six species
Megascolecidae Pheretima One
Megascolecidae Pithemera One
Megascolecidae Polypheretima Two
Megascolecidae Tonoscolex Seven
Megascolecidae Troyia One
  Total One hundred forty nine
Moniligastridae Desmogaster One
Moniligastridae Drawida Seventy one
Moniligastridae Moniligaster Eleven
  Total Eighty three
Ocnerodrilidae Curgiona One
Ocnerodrilidae Deccania One
Ocnerodrilidae Eukerria One
Ocnerodrilidae Gordiodrilus Two
Ocnerodrilidae Malabaria Five
Ocnerodrilidae Nematogenia One
Ocnerodrilidae Ocnerodrilus One
Ocnerodrilidae Thatonia Five
  Total Seventeen
Octochaetidae Bahlia One
Octochaetidae Barogaster Three
Octochaetidae Calebiella One
Octochaetidae Celeriella Seven
Octochaetidae Chaetocotoides One
Octochaetidae Dashiella One
Octochaetidae Dichogaster Five
Octochaetidae Eudichogaster Six
Octochaetidae Eutyphoeus Twenty three
Octochaetidae Herbettodrilus One
Octochaetidae Hoplochaetella Nineteen
Octochaetidae Karmiella Two
Octochaetidae Konkadrilus Six
Octochaetidae Kotegeharia One
Octochaetidae Lennogaster Seven
Octochaetidae Mallehulla One
Octochaetidae Octochaetoides One
Octochaetidae Octochaetona Fifteen
Octochaetidae Octonochaeta One
Octochaetidae Parryodrilus One
Octochaetidae Pellogaster Three
Octochaetidae Priodochaeta One
Octochaetidae Priodoscolex One
Octochaetidae Ramiella Five
Octochaetidae Rillogaster Two
Octochaetidae Scolioscolides One
Octochaetidae Senapatiella Three
Octochaetidae Shimodrilus Two
Octochaetidae Travoscolides Three
Octochaetidae Wahoscolex Ten
  Total One hundred thirty four
Rhinodrilidae Pontoscolex One
  Total One
  • High earthworm diversity in this country is primarily due to its geographical location with a wide latitudinal range (between 8.4’ N and 37.6’ N), complex topography varied climate and past geographical history (linked to ancient super continent of Gondwana land from which it spread in the last Jurassic and drifted to collide with the Asian Mainland to Eocene).
  • Giant earthworms found in India (Source: Julka, 2008).
Species/Family Length (mm) Distribution
Family Moniligastridae
Drawida grandis 520 Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)
Drawida naduvatamensis 500 Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)
Drawida nilamburensis 1000 Nilgiris (Malabars, Kerala)
Family Megascolecidae
Megascolex imperatrix 650 Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)
Megascolex konkanensis 415 South India
Megascolex konkanensis longus 570 Anamalai Hills
Perionyx macintoshi 375 Eastern Himalaya
Family Octochaetidae
Periodochaeta pellucida 458 Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu)
Eutyphoeus gammiei 405 Eastern Himalaya & Northeast Hills