If a Worm is Cut in Half will it Turn into Two Worms?

Short answer? No. No it will not. I wanted to believe the myth after working in my garden yesterday and inadvertently slicing a poor, hardworking, earthworm in half. Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad. Read on.

Earthworms have a head on one end and a tail on the other, though it is difficult to tell which is which.

Cute worm cartoon

If you look close you will see a raised ring on the worm, called a clitellum. That’s the darker section in the cartoon worm shown above. The end closest to the clitellum is the head, the one furthest is the tail.

The good news, and likely where the myth of making two worms out of one worm originates, is that a worm can survive if the clitellum is left fully intact. It can even grow a new tail. BUT (this would be the bad news) it cannot grow a new head. Cut a worm in half and the tail is toast.

worm

Here is another image of an actual earthworm. See the raised ring or clitellum? That means the worm’s head is at the top of this picture and the tail is at the bottom. If you accidentally hoe a worm in half below the clitellum it will live to burrow another day. Cut above it and the worm has lost its head and along with it, all chance to survive.

Now the next time I am hoeing in my garden and cut a worm in two at least I will be able to check to see just how bad I should feel.