A reader wrote to us a while ago to ask about worm she found on the beach. Actually, she didn’t really ask about a worm on the beach – she wasn’t particularly interested in the beach worm itself – but she did mention it bit her son. Presumably, this is what concerned her about the worm. Peculiarly, though, she didn’t ask us anything. She merely said she found a white worm on the beach (it might have been more of a tan color, adds the reader) and that it bit her son, which created a mark on his skin that is red and itchy. Nothing else is added to the email – not even a period. We are of course in the business of answering questions, and the reader submitted her message through our eternally popular “Submit a Question” feature, so we are compelled to supply some information about her situation. What is this worm on the beach? Is this beach worm even a beach worm at all? Are worms on the beach generally dangerous?
Unfortunately, we are lacking so much vital information that is difficult to even begin to formulate a response to our reader’s email. We know only three things about the creature our reader found: the worm was found on a beach, it is white or tan, and it bit a human. (Unfortunately, we can’t even be certain of the last thing because it is definitely possible our reader’s son merely stepped on some type of creature, confusing the sharp sensation that resulted with a bite.)
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Obviously, this leaves us in want of further details. Where was this beach? How big was the worm, if it is even a worm at all (it might be some other worm-like creature, like an insect larva)? Did this “worm” have any other distinguishing characteristics? We just don’t have much to work with. It would also be helpful if we knew if the worm was a terrestrial species or a marine species. (The reader and her son were on a beach, so conceivably it could be either.) To be sure, this wouldn’t limit the search very much because there are thousands of each type spread throughout numerous phyla, but still.
To add further confusion to the matter, we aren’t familiar with any biting worms that live on the beach – or, to be honest, any biting worms at all. The rare caterpillar (caterpillars are often mistaken for worms by our readers) will cause skin irritation when handled, but we haven’t heard of worms causing issues, let alone biting somebody. We have heard that pill bugs, which are small crustaceans that live by the ocean, occasionally bite people, and they are about twice as long as they are wide (meaning they are somewhat worm-like in shape), but that is the only concrete suggestion we can come up with.
Needless to say, it must be concerning for our reader and her son to have been bitten by some sort of beach worm (or whatever it may be), but unfortunately we don’t have too much information to supply. We don’t know of any type of worm that would bite a person, although we suppose it’s possible. (In any case, a worm-like creature might have bitten our reader’s son.) If anybody has had a similar experience or knows anything about biting worms on the beach, please leave a comment below.
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