Name:  Oregon Giant Earthworm
   (Driloleirus macelfreshi)
Status:  Federal Candidate
Listed:
Description: Large, pinkish-white earthworm
Threats:  Habitat loss
 

Overview:  Oregon's giant earthworm was first discovered in 1937, when a live specimen was unearthed in Salem.  Very few other sightings of this species have been documented.  Like its cousin, the giant Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) of Washington, this species can grow to lengths of 3 feet and up to an inch in width.  When handled, the worms emit a peculiar aroma that is reminiscent of flowers--hence their genus name Driloleirus, which means "lily-like worm."  Oregon giant earthworms live in the deep, moist, undisturbed soils of riparian forests.  These worms tunnel deeper into the soil than their smaller "garden-variety" counterparts, and are known to dig burrows as deep as fifteen feet to escape the summer droughts.  However during the wetter seasons, they are found closer to the soil surface, feeding on the rich layers of accumulated organic material.  The biggest threat to these elusive giants is the destruction of their riparian habitat due to agricultural activity, logging and development.


Distribution: Not much is known about these mysterious worms, and the extent of their distribution remains a mystery.  Positive sightings have occurred within riparian forests in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
 
 





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