A couple of days ago, we received a question from a reader who found a worm on her carpet. Evidently, the worm was found alone, so it wasn’t a part of any sort of larger problem or infestation. We presume it is just an errant worm that somehow made it into our reader’s house and onto her carpet. The reader was wondering what she found, and she also asked us to pass on any information we have about the worm on her carpet.
First, here is the picture the reader submitted:
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At this point in our answers to reader questions, we often have to point out that despite a reader’s use of the word “worm,” he or she probably found a larvae. In this case, however, the reader does appear to have found a worm, at least as we define the word “worm.” More precisely, she might have found that most paradigmatic of worms – the earthworm. Even though earthworms generally aren’t found in homes, they are still probably the most likely worm that people come across, and in this instance we have no reason to posit that our reader found anything more obscure because the creature above looks like an earthworm. It is, as we just noted, a little strange to find one in your house, a dry environment in which an earthworm won’t survive long, but it’s easy enough to imagine ways an earthworm might get in. Perhaps it caught a ride in on a pet or pant leg, or maybe a door was left open and the earthworm crawled in. (Obviously, we don’t know the reader’s exact position, so we don’t know what is plausible or even possible in her circumstances.)
The one thing that compromises this suggestion is that we can’t see the worm’s clitellum, the band around the middle of earthworms. Clitella are present on all clitellates, a subgroup of the Annelid phylum that contains both earthworms (oligochaetes) and leeches (hirudineans). Clitella are generally visible on earthworms, but this is less true of worms that aren’t yet fully mature. (The clitellum plays a role in the reproduction systems of earthworms, and so they aren’t fully developed and visible in earthworms that aren’t sexually mature.) So, perhaps our reader found an earthworm that has not reached full adulthood. It is also worth mentioning that clitella aren’t always particularly easy to spot. The picture above is clear enough, but it’s also small, so this could be an adult earthworm with a clitellum that we simply can’t make out in the image above.
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We think our reader found an earthworm, but given that we aren’t even sure of this, we won’t try to suggest any specific species. There are thousands of different kinds of earthworms, and the differences between them can be extremely minute. So, all we can offer our reader is a tentative suggestion that she found an earthworm, and she can take this suggestion and do further research if she wants to learn more.