“What on Earth are these worms?” asks this reader, who found a batch of pinkish, dead worm-like creatures beside her kitchen sink. She has since cleaned the worms up and bleached her entire counter and sink.
The worms in question appear to be a dark pink, brownish color, and have segments along their bodies, which are thin but long. To us, these look like tubificid worms. Otherwise known as tubifex tubifex, sewage worms, sludge worms, or simply blood worms (an umbrella term generally used to describe red-colored marine worms), the tubificid worm is an aquatic creature that is often compared to the earthworm, as both move in a similar fashion, come in the same colors and feed on decomposing organic matter. And just like earthworms, tubificid worms also play a beneficial role in the environment, more so when they are found in natural bodies of water. This is because the detritus they eat turns into nutrient rich soil that they excrete. This then returns to the sediment they were feeding on.
Now, as a creature whose primary diet consists of detritus, tubificid worms can often be found in sewage pipes (hence the alternative name, sewage worm) where they live in the sewage water. In fact, because tubificid worms are able to survive in such waters, where the oxygen content is low and the pollution level is high, tubificid worms can be markers of poor water quality in natural bodies of water (sewage water is obviously not good quality). Additionally, tubificid worms tend to cluster and, when alive, can be found as a writhing mass of worms that might remind some of a brain, or a very stringy meatball. In fact, in our reader’s photo, we can see that even in death, some of the tubificid worms stayed tangled together, which we think is rather sweet.
So, given that tubificid worms thrive in the sewers, where they can happily feed on detritus, it is possible that they crawled through the pipes and up our reader’s kitchen sink before drying out. These worms are completely harmless to humans and pets and so should not be feared. Our reader was right in bleaching her counter and sink, and we hope that meant that she also poured bleach down the drain, as this is really what needs cleaning. As long as one consistently keeps their drains clean, one should avoid creatures such as the tubificid worm.
To conclude, the dead worms our reader found beside her kitchen sink are tubificid worms. We hope that this brief look at these placid worms was helpful in quelling any concerns our reader might have had, and that we answered the question of what these worms are.