Saskatchewan Leeches (Hirudinea)
Leeches are easily recognised by their segmented "worm" appearance and the anterior and posterior suckers on the ventral surface. They are also recognized for their blood sucking ability but as with many organisms only a few "suck" mammalian blood. Unfortunately their striking colors usually do not with stand preservation and the body contracts to only a fraction of their full length so it is best to note their colour while they are alive. The fully extended size can range from 10 mm for the small species to over 100 mm for the horse leech, Percymoorensis marmorata (Say).
As can be seen in the images some leeches brood their young.
Below is a basic taxonomic key to the families of leeches found in SK. An interactive pdf version of the key is available by emailing me and requesting a copy.
I find the eyes are useful for identification when the leech has been preserved in alcohol and much of the color is lost and the body is contracted.
Saskatchewan species list to leeches (Hirudinea):
- Abloglossiphonia heteroclita (Linn.)
- Batracobdella picta (Verrill)
- Glossiphonia complanata (Linn.)
- Helobdella fusca (Castle)?-AB & MB
- Helobdella stagnalis (Linn.)
- Marvinmeyeria lucida (Moore)
- Placobdella papillifera (Verrill)?
- Placobdella montifera (Moore)
- Placobdella ornata (Verrill)
- Placobdella parasitica (Say)
- Theromyzon biannulatum
- Theromyzon rude (Baird)
- Theromyzon tessdatum (Muller)
Piscicolidae (Fish leeches)
- Cystobranchus verrilli Meyer
- Myzobdella lugubris Leidy
- Myzobdella moorei (Meyer)
- Piscicola geometra (Linn.)
- Piscicola milneri (Verrill)
- Piscicola punctata (Verrill)
- Mollibdella grandis (Verrill)
- Percymoorensis marmorata (Say)
- Macrobdella decora (Say)
- Erpobdella punctata (Leidy)
- Dina dubia Moore and Meyer
- Dina parva Moore
- Mooreobdella fervida (Verrill)
- Nephelopsis obscura Verrill
Clifford, H.F. 1991. Aquatic Invertebrates of Alberta. University of Alberta Press. Edmonton, Alberta.
Davies, R.W. 1991. In Thorp, J.H. and A.P. Covich. Ed. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates.
Davies, R.W. 1973. The geographic distribution of freshwater Hirudinoidea in Canada. Can. J. Zool. 51:531-545.
Oliver, D.R. 1958. The leeches (Hirudinea) of Saskatchewan. Can. Field-Nat. 72:161-165.