Lugworm cast

Lugworm cast ©Julie Hatcher 

Lugworm

Scientific name: Arenicola marina
Lugworm casts are a familiar sight on sandy shores, but the worms themselves are rarely seen except by the fishermen that dig them up for bait.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 12-20cm

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

The Lugworm, or Blow Lug, lives in burrows in the sand from the middle shore of the beach down to the sandy seabed. Their burrows are U-shaped and are formed by the Lugworm swallowing sand at the head end and defecating it at the tail end, creating wiggly piles of sand along the shoreline known as casts. They feed on tiny animals and detritus that is filtered through the sand they ingest. 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 tail end of lugworm burrows. Look out for a small depression in the sand at the head end where the worm has ingested the sand. The worms themselves are variable in colour from black or brown to pink or green.

Distribution

Found on sandy and muddy shores all round our coasts.

Did you know?

There are 2 species of worm on our shores referred to as the generic "lugworm": the Blow Lug and the Black Lug. The Black Lug is a different species and - as its name suggests - is black in colour.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action pages.