Lugworm

Arenicola marina

About

Lugworms live in burrows in the sand from the middle shore of the beach down to the sea. Their burrows are U-shaped and are formed by the Lugworm swallowing sand at the head end and defecating it at the tail end. They feed on plankton and detritus that is filtered through the water in the burrow. They are an important source of food for birds like curlew and godwit.

How to identify

When the tide goes out, coiled 'casts' can be found at the mouth of lugworm burrows. The worms themselves are variable in colour from black or brown to pink or green.

Where to find it

Found on sandy and muddy shores all round our coasts.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Lugworms are common and provide a vital link in the food chain for many of our rarer species. Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Lugworm
Latin name
Arenicola marina
Category
Invertebrates
Worms
Statistics
Length: 20cm
Conservation status
Common.