7 Classifications of Earthworms

By Goody Clairenstein; Updated April 24, 2017
There are many different types of earthworm.

The seven categories of biological taxonomy are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. All living organisms belong to specific groups within these categories, most of which have already been established, and earthworms are no exception. You might not anticipate, however, just how many different kinds of earthworm there are.

Kingdom: Animalia

Earthworms belong to the Animalia kingdom. They are multicellular organisms that are also eukaryotic; this means that their cells have nuclei.

Phylum: Annelida

Annelids are segmented worms. Earthworms belong to this phylum because their bodies are sectioned, creating the ridged or ringed appearance that gives the "ringed worms" of this phylum their name.

Class: Clitellata

The name of the class of earthworms owes itself to their clitellum: the collar that serves as a reproductive center during the adult phase of the earthworm's life.

Order: Haplotaxida or Lumbriculida

The order of earthworms is either Haplotaxida or Lumbriculida. The distinction depends on whether the earthworm has a freshwater habitat — Lumbriculida — or not — Haplotaxida.

Family: Acanthodrilidae through Sparganophilidae

There are 16 different families to which a given earthworm may belong. In alphabetical order, these are Acanthodrilidae, Ailoscolidae, Alluroididae, Almidae, Criodrilidae, Eudrilidae, Exxidae, Glossoscolecidae, Hormogastridae, Lumbricidae, Lutodrilidae, Megascolecidae, Microchaetidae, Ocnerodrilidae, Octochaetidae and Sparganophilidae.

Genus and Species

The earthworm genus is generally accepted to be Lumbricus. There are approximately 4,400 different species of earthworm. You should be able to find out more about a particular earthworm's taxonomy by narrowing it down based on region and habitat. Local field guides and biological texts are an invaluable resource to finding the exact taxonomy of a given earthworm.

About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.