Foot Long Worm is Probably Horsehair Worm

We recently heard from a reader in Tennessee. He sent us a picture of a specimen he found in his yard. He wrote, “It moves like a snake but there’s no visible head. It’s about a foot long.” The photograph shows a thin brown worm against a white surface. Since his hand is also in the photo, we have a good idea about the exact size of this creature:

We are confident that our reader has discovered a horsehair worm! Horsehair worms (Phylum Nematomorpha) are known as parasitic worms that infect arthropods such as beetles, crickets, cockroaches, and grasshoppers. However, they are only parasitic as larvae! They are free-living organisms once they reach adulthood.

UPDATE! All About Worms has partnered with HealthLabs so that
you can get tested for parasites at a fully-qualified lab near you,
no doctor's visit required
! Check it out at HealthLabs.com!

Immature horsehair worms develop in their host’s body, absorbing nutrients and generally acting as a parasite does. Once the worm has matured, it will wait until its host is in or near a body of water, and then it will eject itself from the body of its host, killing it in the process. This is why horsehair worms are usually found in water, whether that means a pond, lake, cistern, or bucket. Our reader didn’t mention where he found this creature, but we bet it was either in or near some water or on a wet surface (we once heard from a reader who found a horsehair worm on a wet sidewalk.)

Although horsehair larvae are parasitic to some arthropods, they aren’t considered to be dangerous or parasitic towards humans! According to the University of California Cooperative Extension page on Horsehair Worms, even if a human did ingest a horsehair worm, they might experience some mild discomfort but wouldn’t become infected.

In conclusion, a reader asked us to identify the super-thin brown worm he found in his yard. We are confident this creature is a horsehair worm!

No Paywall Here!
All About Worms is and always has been a free resource. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or make you give us your email address, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to pay our research authors, and to run and maintain the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep All About Worms free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did we provide for you today?:
Summary
Foot Long Worm is Probably Horsehair Worm
Article Name
Foot Long Worm is Probably Horsehair Worm
Description
A reader asked us to identify the super-thin brown worm he found in his yard. We are confident this creature is a horsehair worm!
Author

Leave a Comment (but to submit a question please use the "Submit a Question" link above; we can't respond to questions posted as a comment)

Menu / Search

All About Worms