Common clam worm

Alitta succinea

Family Nereididae - worms, marine (polychaetes)

Body wormlike; color tan to yellowish brown, sometimes with white or dark spots on body; many segmented body, up to 160 segments, each segment with a pair of arms (parapodia); parapodia numerous, occur throughout the length of the body, looks similar to a millipede; parapodia with 3-4 lobes (with multiple setae or hairs), cone-like anteriorly, strap-like posteriorly, posterior parapodia greenish, yellowish or reddish when alive; head with 4 eyes, 2 bulbous palps in front of eyes, 1 pair frontal antennae, 4 pair longer tentacles; has an eversible pharynx (anterior region of the gut) with 2 tong-like jaws and numerous small teeth;
Similar Species
The clam worm is probably the most abundant of the segmented worms (polychaetes) in the estuaries. Worms are difficult to identify. The clam worm's distinguishing characteristic, the broad, flat straps on the posterior parapodia, distinguish it from other worms in the Nereididae family.
Bays, they burrow in the sediment, can be found around seagrasses, around dock pilings, oyster reefs and other rocky bottoms
Maximum Size
19 cm (7 1/2 in)
Other Common Names
common southern clamworm, large sandworm, ragworm, pile worm
Previous Scientific Names
Nereis succinea, Neanthes succinea,
The clam worms are known to swarm at the surface en masse during spawning. Swarming is thought to be triggered by temperature, salinity, photoperiod and lunar cycle. Commonly swarm at night near artificial lights or natural moonlight. Swarming starts around spring and may continue into summer. After reproduction, the worms die.