A reader wrote to us recently about some worms that she found in her shower. As she notes, they look like earthworms, but they are “smaller and thinner.” The reader is uncertain how they ended up in her shower, but she offers some speculation: they might have come from the drain, or she might have brought them in herself, maybe in her hair, as she took a shower after taking a hike. Our reader is wondering what she found, and she is also wondering if she should be worried about the worms that turned up in her shower.
The reader referenced an old article we wrote about small red worms in the shower, and indicated that nothing we suggested really matched what she found. We aren’t surprised by this, as we basically came up empty in that article, and in fact indicated that all of our suggestions didn’t really match up perfectly with what the reader had written to us about. However, in this case, we were sent pictures. Here is one of them:
Based on some scale provided by the reader’s thumb (not included in the image above, obviously), this creature is probably about three or four centimeters in length. However, this appears to be the biggest of the three she found, and the other two could be as small as a centimeter or two. As this reader points out, this is quite small for an earthworm.
However, they certainly look like earthworms, and this is the most promising identification we can offer. There are many different earthworm species, and they vary widely in shape and size, so the mere fact that they are small doesn’t preclude this possibility. Also, the worm above appears to be leaving a trail of frass behind it, which is consistent with the earthworm identification as well. One thing we always look for when trying to determine if something is an earthworm is a clitellum, the bump around the middle of earthworms (and other clitellates), and we can’t make one out in the pictures the reader submitted. However, they can be essentially invisible on immature earthworms, and the earthworms above (if they are earthworms) probably are immature, given their small size.
As for how the worms ended up in the shower, we can offer nothing but pure speculation. In general, an earthworm isn’t the type of creature that would crawl into a bathroom through a drain, a phenomenon that is closely associated with moth fly larva. However, it seems possible – earthworms in the soil could work their way into the piping underneath the shower and crawl up through the drain, for example. We aren’t sure how to assess the likelihood of this scenario, and in fact it could be impossible depending on the reader’s living arrangement, but the earthworms are obviously coming from somewhere. We suppose it is also possible that the reader herself introduced the earthworms into her shower, perhaps via her hair, but it seems quite unlikely that three earthworms would be stuck in her hair. It is unclear how they would get stuck in her hair, and it is triply mysterious how three would get stuck in her hair. Probably the best way to determine their source is to simply wait – if our reader keeps finding worms, it is pretty obvious they are coming into the house through some opening. If she doesn’t find any more, then maybe she did bring them into the house after her hike.
And of course the answer to this question is related to whether or not she should be worried about the worms she found. If they are simply earthworms, they certainly don’t present any direct threat to the reader, but if they keep showing up this would be annoying, and it probably indicates that there is some opening in the house that is allowing them in. There also must be something inviting about the opening – it might be something like a leaking pipe that serves as a source of moisture, which could draw in creatures like earthworms, whose bodies must remain moist to survive. But, again, this is all just speculation since we have no familiarity with the reader’s living situation. For this reason, we can’t really say whether or not our reader should be worried. If earthworms keeping showing up, we suppose it is worth investigating the problem further. If they don’t, then there probably isn’t anything to worry about.
So, we can’t really offer our reader any direct advice, but hopefully we’ve at least provided some helpful information. For now, we don’t think our reader needs to worry, but if earthworms keep showing up, the issue seems worth investigating.