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Branchiura sowerbyi Beddard was probably introduced to Britain with exotic plants consigned to botanic gardens. The British populations occur mainly in artificially warmed habitats such as lily ponds in botanic gardens and power station effluents but a few are found at natural temperatures.

Branchiura completed its life cycle in about a year both in the river Avon, Wiltshire, at natural temperatures and in the warm effluent from a power station discharging into the river Thames. In a worm culture maintained at natural temperatures the rate of cocoon production reached a peak in summer and was closely related to temperature.

In the laboratory it was found that the optimum temperature for cocoon laying in mature worms, also growth in sexually immature worms, was near 25°C. The optimum temperature for growth in sexually mature worms, however, was lower (10°C in the Avon population and 15°C in the Thames population). It followed that at 20°–25°C the growth of sexually mature worms was probably depressed by the high rate of cocoon production.