Macrobdella sestertia Whitman, 1886

New England medicinal leech



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Rediscovered in or before 1977 (Smith, 1977). It has been suggested that the species may be missing again (Carlson & Phillips, 2020).



Maine, Massachusetts (eastern), New Hampshire & South Carolina, USA


The species' known distribution was expanded to New Hampshire and South Carolina, respectively, based upon historical specimens that had poreviously been misidentified (Phillips et al., 2016; Poly, 2018).


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Whitman, C. O. (1886). The leeches of Japan. Part I. The ten-eyed leeches, or the Hirudinidae. Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science (New Series, No. 103) 26(3): 317-416, pls. 17-21.


Other references:

Barnes, Robert D. (1987). Invertebrate Zoology. Fifth Edition. Saunders College Publishing, New York, New York. 893 pp.

Carlson, Colin J. and Phillips, Anna J. (2020). Is the New England medicinal leech (Macrobdella sestertia) extinct? Biological Conservation 243: 108495.

Holmes, Branden. (2021). What's Lost and What Remains: The Sixth Extinction in 100 Accounts (eBook). Self published.

Klemm, D. J. 1982. Leeches (Annelida: Hirudinea) of North America. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory, Cincinnati, Ohio. EPA-600/3-82-025. 177pp.

NatureServe. (2015). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: May 24, 2016).

Phillips, Anna J., Sals-Montiel, Ricardo and Oceguera-Figueroa, Alejandro. (2016). Distribution of the New England Medicinal Leech, Macrobdella sestertia Whitman, 1886 and redeterminations of specimens of Macrobdella (Annelida: Clitellata: Macrobdellidae) at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 129(1): 103-113.

Poly, William J. (2018). Range Extension for the Elusive New England Medicinal Leech, Macrobdella sestertia Whitman, 1886 (Hirudinida: Macrobdellidae), in South Carolina, U.S.A., with Notes on Morphology, Coloration, and Biology. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, ser. 4, 64(12): 347-359, 8 figs.

Sawyer, R. T. (1972). North American freshwater leeches, exclusive of the Piscicolidae, with a key to all species. Illinois Biological Monographs 46. 154pp.

Smith, D. G. (1977). The rediscovery of Macrobdella sestertia Whitman (Hirudinea: Hirudinidae). Journal of Parasitology 63(4): 759-760.

Smith, D. G. and Hanlon, S. (1997). Macrobella sestertia (Hirudinea: Hirudinidae) in Maine and a key to the hirudiniform leeches of Maine. Northeastern Naturalist 4(4): 231-236.

Thorp, J. H. and Covich, A. P. (eds). (1991). Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates. Academic Press, Inc., Boston, MA. 911 pp.


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