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Species belonging to the genus Pheretima have a clitellum, which is a band of glandular tissue present on segments 14 to 16.
Individuals are hermaphroditic and reproduction can be either sexual or parthenogenetic. Female genital pores lie on the ventral surface of segment 14. A pair of male genital pores is situated ventrally on segment 18. Genital papiliae may also be present ventrally. As with all earthworms, development of young is without a larval stage and takes place in cocoons.
Pheretima are generally nocturnal, like most earthworms, and have an aversion to light. They come out only at night, and feed and reproduce only at night. Also, similar most earthworms, they must keep their body surface wet to respire.
Similar genera include Amynthas, Archipheretima, Duplodicodrilus, Metaphire, Metapheretima, Pithemera, and Polypheretima. In combination these "pheretimoid" genera have about 1,000 species, making them an important ecological and taxonomic group of Oriental species (cf. Lumbricidae from Eurasia; Moniligastridae from Indo-Asian region).
Pheretima worms are administered as a medicine in China. The worm contains biological agents beneficial in rat models of stroke. In clinical practice, it has been recognized for its curative effects in the treatment of epilepsy. It contains hypoxanthine, lumbrofebrin, and lumbritin.
- Kinabalu giant earthworm, Pheretima darnleiensis'
- "Checklist of pheretimoid taxa" (PDF). YNU. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
- Liu, CH; Lin, YW; Tang, NY; Liu, HJ; Huang, CY; Hsieh, CL (2012). "Effect of oral administration of Pheretima aspergillum (earthworm) in rats with cerebral infarction induced by middle-cerebral artery occlusion". Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 10: 66–82. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v10i1.11. PMC . PMID 24082328.