Horsehair Worms

Test tube wormThe horsehair worm is a parasite that lives in water, and
its larvae infect insects.   Every year
or two,  a panicky client finds one of
these in a toilet bowl, water dish, or a bit of pet vomit.  They do not infest the pets, but the crickets
or beetles may be eaten by a pet,  and
the worm puked up.   If the insect enters
the water, the mature parasite will exit to begin its life cycle anew.

There is really no harm in them (unless you’re the unlucky
insect).  I’ve kept this specimen in a
test tube for years .  If you stretched
it out, it would be eight inches long.

 This fall, we have
been plagued by an unusually large influx of crickets as the weather cooled
off.   They apparently come inside to get
warm.  There  have always been a few in the fall, but
hardly enough to notice.  This year they
have really been annoying.  One of the
elementary schools called in an exterminator after finding hundreds of them in
a utility room. I have stepped on dozens of them in my clinic in the last
month.

Cricket PinataI thought they had run their course, but I stepped on yet another cricket
yesterday and out popped a horsehair worm, sort of a cricket pinata.

I thought the picture
might be interesting to you.  When still
alive, they tend to “tie themselves in knots”, hence their other nickname, the
Gordian worm.

Here are  a couple of
links with more information, if you’re interested.

http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/field_station/field_notes/horsehair.htm

http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef613.asp

One thought on “Horsehair Worms

  1. Angela McCoanughy says:

    ***WARNING***
    This is not factual info for anyone reading. Horsehair worms can indeed infect humans and animals and, are incredibly difficult,near impossible to irradicate. Do not take this data as fact.

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