Bankia setacea (Teredinidae)

the shipworms


A Bankia worm

Worm-like body with two siphons at the posterior end which protrude into the water. May reach 60 cm in length and 20 mm in diameter. Adults tunnel in the inner wood of logs submerged in marine waters. Tunnels affords protection of their soft bodies from predators. Digestion of wood is aided by microbial symbionts, very similar to termites digesting wood cellulose in their gut with the help of microbes.




A Bankia worm-eaten driftwood


Larvae settle on pilings and logs and bore into them during Oct.-Dec. Wood may become completely honeycombed before the infestation is noticed.





Tunnels with a hard white calcareous lining


Tunnels are lined with a hard white calcareous material that renders the logs unsuitable for lumber. The calcareous lining is secreted by the mantle of the setacea.








Bankia worm holes Relative size of the tunnel in comparison to a nickle.
Shipworm damage in piling Cross-section close up of attacked dock piling showing extensive tunnel holes.

Principal Hosts:

Wooden structures, boats, and log in salt water are subject to damage by marine borers.

Economic Importance:

B. setacea is the most important shipworm in B.C., another species causing similar damage prevalent in other areas is Teredo navalis.

References and Links:

FC: 51.