A woman in Sydney, Australia recently moved house and has been finding all sorts of bugs and creatures in her home, including the organism pictured below. She describes it as a “little, black hairlike thing” and she has found it all over her house; she wonders what it might be and seeks our answers.
Our reader elaborates on the situation in her query, stating that the house she moved into had been empty for approximately five years, and “it seems the insects have taken over.” In addition to the organism photographed above, our reader has been finding “many unusual things” on her wooden floors, despite doing a pesticide treatment and maintaining a consistent cleaning regime. She has found black beetles “everywhere” which she believes are carpet beetles, “but could be a different beetle”. She states that they are not a “bedbug shape”, which implies that she has ruled out that possibility. However, these are not the creatures she wants us to identify or give advice on; her question pertains solely to the hairlike organism in the photo. This critter has been found in her bathroom “a few times”, as well as in her hair after combing it. At one point, one of these creatures fell onto our reader’s chest, and even though she flicked it off “immediately”, it caused “large itchy welts.” Then, the creatures did not reappear for about a week until our reader discovered one sitting in her bathroom sink. Our reader emphasizes the “tiny” size of the worms by explaining that the photo above is “very magnified”.
Now, we do not think these creatures are related to the beetles in her home, as they do not resemble the larvae of any known beetle; the larvae of beetles tend to be much thicker and can be seen by the naked eye. When any of our readers talk of black, hairlike organisms we immediately think of horsehair worms. Horsehair worms are aquatic parasites which infect infects and other invertebrates and burst forth from them when fully mature. There have also been cases of people having horsehair worms inside them, but that is never the result of the worms purposefully infecting humans (and they do not cause symptoms). Either way, we doubt these are horsehair worms seeing as they caused welts to form on our reader’s skin. In actual fact, seeing as these worms did cause welts, this situation becomes medical in nature, and because of this we will be unable to identify these worms; as we are not medical professionals, we are not qualified to do so. What we can suggest doing is consulting with an infectious disease physician who will be better equipped to identify such an organism. If she does do this, our reader can do one or more of the following: 1) Search for a medical parasitologist in her area using this directory of medical parasitology consultants: https://www.astmh.org/for-astmh-members/clinical-consultants-directory. 2) Search for a local parasitologist by doing a Google search for “medical parasitologist (name of the closest big city)” or “tropical medicine specialist (name of the closest big city)”. 3) Get in touch with Dr. Omar Amin at the Parasitology Center at https://www.parasitetesting.com. 4) Contact Dr. Vipul Savaliya of Infectious Disease Care (“IDCare”) at idcarepa.com.
To conclude, we cannot say what these black, hairlike organisms are, as we are not qualified to identify organisms that cause medical issues (doing so would be diagnosing a medical issue!). What we can say is that these are probably not horsehair worms, nor are they related to the carpet beetle larvae. We hope that the resources listed above are helpful and we wish our reader the best.