Earthworm vs Leech

The earthworms are a terrestrial invertebrate belonging to phylum Annelida; they have a tube-like body that is externally segmented with corresponding internal segmentation.

Leeches also have segmented body but they are predatory worms and they also belong to the phylum Annelida. As they both belong to the same phylum they have some similarities but still, they are different from each other.

Here an interesting question arises, what would happen if an insect duel happens between these two who would win?? Let’s know about them so that we can decide on our winner.

Anatomy:

How do Earthworms look like?

How do earthworms look like?
Earthworm in backyard

Earthworms have segmented tubular body which is connected through continuous guts, nerve and blood vessel. These segments range between 37-100 segments depending on species. The skin of the earthworm has a thin cuticle and a slimy mucus keeps it moist. The moist skin helps earthworms to absorb oxygen and expel carbondioxide; if it gets dried then exchange of gases will not take place and earthworms would die.

How do Leeches look like?

How do Leeches look like? medicinal leeches
Man holding leeches

There are 34 segments in the leech’s body. The anterior oral sucker of leech is formed of the first 6 segments which attach to the host’s body to suck blood. A larger posterior sucker is also present in the latter half of the body which helps leech to move.

Habitat:

Where do we find earthworms?

Earthworms are found all over the world where moist soil, water, and low temperature are low.

Where do Leeches reside?

Leeches reside in water; they can be found in shallow freshwater or saltwater, vegetated banks of rivers and edges of ponds, lakes while some leeches are terrestrial too.

wild leech on rock
Wild leech crawling on wet rock

Diet:

What do Earthworms eat?

Earthworms mostly live in moist soil and feeds on organic matters like rotten leaves, fruits, etc. Sometimes they also eat a small amount of soil which gets digested in their intestine. Leeches feed on blood as well as decomposing bodies, they stick on wounds of reptiles, mammals, fish, and amphibians.

earthworm compost
Hand holding compost with redworms.

What do leech feed on?

Hematophagus leech releases an anti-clotting enzyme in blood while they suck out the blood from the host. When they got detached or leave the place from where they suck out blood, the host’s wound bleeds more than normal wounds.

What is leech therapy? is it painful?

Leech therapy also is also referred to as hirudotherapy is still used today by many medical professionals in finger reattachment procedures and surgeries on the soft tissues of the face.

leech therapy
Medicinal Leech therapy

Reproduction:

Earthworms and leeches are hermaphrodites i.e. an individual has both males as well as female reproductive organs. Earthworms have testes sac which produces sperms and stores it while the ovaries were present in the 13th segment. Earthworms develop maturity in 60-90 days after hatching. Both earthworms and leeches follow the same process of reproducing; after copulation, reproduction begins and in later stages cocoon formation takes place.

Movement:

Earthworms can be found anywhere moist soil is available; they come to the surface after heavy rains or downpour as the wet ambiance provides them an opportunity to migrate. For locomotion, they contract and relax muscles which can be seen easily, when it moves its body shortens and lengthen through which it moves. Their slimy mucus also provides aids in locomotion. Unlike earthworms, leeches move through their anterior and posterior suckers. Posterior sucker gets attached to the surface and the body gets elongated which moves leech forward; later the posterior sucker gets detached and the anterior sucker gets sucker attached.   

Amazing Fun Facts for kids:

Some interesting facts about Earthworms?

  • Earthworms are called “farmers of the soil” as their presence makes soil aerated which is beneficial for plants.
  • The Vermicompost is actually earthworms poo and is considered as black gold.
  • When they eat organic material in the soil they release humus rich in potash, nitrogen, and phosphates which acts as a fertilizer.

Some interesting facts about Leech?

  • Leech is widely used in hirudotherapy to reduce swelling and de-congest the tissues and blood vessels.
  • The leech has cylindrical and segmented bodies.
  • All leeches have a posterior and anterior disc-shaped sucker.called as Proboscis.
  • All leeches are not bloodsuckers, some are carnivores prefer eating frogs, snails, turtles, and other aquatic creatures.
  • leeches have 5 Pairs of Eyes and 32 brains; each segment having its own brain.

Battle: Insect Duel: Who would win?

Monster Leech Vs Giant Worm, Although Earthworms and Leeches belong to the same phylum i.e. Annelida, they are very different from each other. When it comes to one on one faceoff we predict leech will win; as earthworm doesn’t have anything to fight or protect itself from the leech. Also, some leeches don’t feed on blood at all rather they prey on insect larvae, earthworms, mollusks, etc. Hence, leech is the unopposed winner of this insect duel.

Comparison Table: Leech vs Earthworm

Comparison HeadsEarthwormLeech
KingdomAnimaliaAnimalia
PhylumAnnelidaAnnelida
ClassClitellataClitellata/Euhirudinea
SuborderLumbricinaHirudinea
LengthFrom few inches to 14 inchesFrom every minute to 8 inches
LocomotionThrough contraction and relaxation of musclesThrough anterior and posterior sucker.
Feeds onThey eat the organic material in the soil.Feeds on blood and decomposing bodies of animals.
AnatomyThey have tubular and segmented bodiesThey also have segmented bodies with a sucker attached to both ends.
Body StructureThey are thin and round; white or pinkishFlat, thick, and short; black coloured

Comparison Video: Giant Leech vs Giant Earthworm

FAQ’S: Frequently Asked Questions

How are leeches different from earthworms?

Leeches are flatter and actually lack a complete coelomic cavity which Earthworms most annelids have.

Is a leech a worm?

Yes, Leeches often misspelled leaches or leach are flattened segmented worms with a sucker on both mouth and tail.

Do worms have lungs?

No they don’t have lungs , instead they breath through heir skin.

What animal has 32 brains?

Leech, Internal structure of a Leech is segregated into 32 separate segments, and each segments has its own brain.

What animal has 10 hearts?

The earthworm has five pairs of hearts, which in combined makes total ten.

what do leech and earthworm eat?

Earthworms feed on organic matter while leeches are blood suckers.

Do all leeches drink blood?

No not all Leeches drinks blood , some even prey on small insects and worms.