#Biodiversity150 number 69 of 150 Leech

69/150: Leeches – They don’t all want to suck your blood!

Animalia: Annelida: Clitellata: Arhynchobdellida: Erpobdellidae: Erpobdella: Erpobdella obscura (Verrill, 1872)

This past week Canadian Blood Services has been promoting awareness of blood donation with Blood Donor Week. We thought we’d share some info about leeches. On first mention of leeches, many people probably think of Hirudo medicinalis, the medicinal leech. But this is only one of almost 700 different species of leeches. Most species do not actually feed on blood! Leeches mainly live in freshwater environments, but can be found in terrestrial or marine environments. The Ribbon leech, Erpobdella obscura, is found in freshwater throughout North America. It’s a large leech, and preys on small invertebrates, and other debris found in a pond or lake. If you fish for walleye, you have likely used this species as bait! They are popular as bait: their waving movement draws the attention of fish. An interesting tidbit about this leech is that its semelparous- it only reproduces one time before death, as opposed to other organisms that reproduce repeatedly throughout their lifetime. #Leech #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

A recently caught ribbon leech. Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
A ribbon leech out of the water but still in the wild! Photo Credit: OakleyOriginals goo.gl/uJTnUO

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID:  JCLCH005-10

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for leech

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:AAB4504

Title Image: Specimen 10PROBE-22501- Churchill, Manitoba- 09-Aug-2010 – Dip Net
Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics