Worms are indeed a part of the animal kingdom. However, depending on where you look and who you ask, some will say that worms are animals, whereas others will say that they are not.
Indeed the question is a little more complicated than it might first appear to be, making the answer a little complicated, too!
In this article, we will discover what part of the animal kingdom worms are from, whether or not they are insects, and how insects are different from other animals.
We will also see how worms impact the planet and what role they play in life on earth.
Yes – worms are animals and they are considered invertebrates.
Keep reading and let’s find out more…
What class of animal is an Earthworm?
First of all, it is essential to note that earthworms are invertebrate animals. Breaking it down further, they are classed as Annelids (segmented worms).
As the name suggests, invertebrates are animals that do not possess vertebral columns. This gives the worm their incredible flexibility.
Other animals described as “worms” in the invertebrate family include:
- bristle worms
- parasitic worms
- marine worms
- ribbon worms
- arrow worms
Other invertebrates from the animal species are insects, spiders, crabs, squids, and even coral.
Many species also fall into the other of the two groups of the animal kingdom, meaning the vertebrates.
This group includes any animal with a bone structure in their body cavity, such as fish, birds, reptiles, mammals, certain parasites, etc.
Are Worms Insects or Animals?
In truth, when confronted with the question “are worms insects or animals?”, it is best to start with “how are insects different from animals?”.
In the biology world, some will differentiate insects from other animals by saying that their bodies are different from most animals, which of course, is true.
They are anthropods (meaning that they have an exoskeleton).
They have segmented bodies, usually split into three defining areas (the head, the thorax, and the abdomen). They also have jointed legs.
However, by definition, they are a part of the animal phyla (classification), which would naturally make them a part of the animal kingdom.
That considered, they are indeed a very specific part of the animal kingdom and NOT one to which worms belong.
As you can see from the definition of insects, it is easy to see that worms do neither have exoskeletons nor jointed legs. Therefore, they are not insects.
Instead, worms are an entirely different part of the animal phyla; the invertebrate phyla, which includes Annelids ( segmented worms ), i.e. our friends, the earthworms.
What Type of Creature Is a Worm?
As was previously stated, worms are a part of the invertebrate family.
These worms include the marine nemertean worm, the African giant earthworm, the vinegar eelworm, and of course, free-living nematodes and annelid worms.
Although they may appear as being simple animals due to their simple body structure and habitats being either in, or on land, in shallow water, or freshwater, saltwater etc, most worms have an incredibly important role to play in our planet.
For example, if we look at earthworms alone, their role in the soil is what feeds humans, plants, and of course, other animals.
Earthworms feed on decaying organic matter (meaning anything from dead roots, rotting fruit, leaf piles, and even dead animals).
They turn the dissolved nutrients from the dead organic matter in their digestive tract into worm castings (i.e. worm poop). Their castings are what gardeners and farmers crave the most.
Worm castings are extremely beneficial to the soil and anything that grows on it.
They help to retain moisture, keeping plants, trees, and flowers at a good moisture level at all times.
They also help the roots to receive better the nutrients that they need to grow well.
Moreover, as earthworms burrow through the soil, they gently aerate the ground, making it a better environment for the other animals and the vegetation.
However, it is also essential to know that not all worms have a positive effect on life on earth.
As you can see, worms can be quite challenging to define. Some consider them animals in the broader scope of the animal kingdom, whereas other people prefer to class them as something more specific than an animal.
With so many species, in so many environments, and with such different impacts on the planet and life on it, there’s no wonder that people can get a little confused about these marvellous little creatures.
In truth, the confusion regarding a worm’s place in the world, and its impact, is in no small part a reason for people’s general misunderstanding about worms, and their general dislike towards them.
Sadly, this has created years of people trying to rid their gardens and crops of worms, even our allies, the earthworms.
When it comes to better understanding worms, it can take a lot of time to learn how to differentiate them based on their species, their habitats, their food source, and their impact on land, but it is worth the time – especially if you want to enrich your land with healthy and happy earthworms.