Giant Worm with Eyes All Over Body is actually a Fungus Gnat Larvae Train

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“?Can you please identify this strange-looking worm?” asks Bryan about the odd-looking creature pictured below. “It’s approximately six-inches long, and if you zoom in it looks like it has eyes all over its body, very strange! I took this video in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina.” Well, Bryan might be surprised to know that those are indeed eyes all over the “body”, though it isn’t just one body, but many. This isn’t just one worm, it’s a moving pile of them, kind of. They’re not technically worms, but larvae: specifically, fungus gnat larvae.

Fungus gnats, otherwise known as sciarid flies, are a species of fly that, like most species of flies, thrive where the trash is. Well, where the compost is. The fly larvae, commonly referred to as maggots, will hatch from the eggs that flies typically lay in rotting organic matter and immediately go to town. In large numbers, fungus gnat larvae can quickly gobble up a pile of compost, making them very beneficial to the environment, as they break down organic debris much faster than if they were left to decompose. That said, many fungus gnats will lay their eggs in potting compost, which can pose a problem, as the larvae then begin eating on cuttings and seedlings, which can stunt the plant growth. That said, they will also eat fungal growth, which is helpful.

Now, why are the larvae all piled up on each other like this? Despite this being a well-known phenomenon, at least in worm- and bug-enthusiast communities, not a lot of research has been done on it. It is thought that when conditions get too humid in a certain area, like after rain, the fungus gnat larvae will join together to migrate in this fashion, secreting a mucus-like substance to glide over. Moving together in this way discourages predators from feeding on them, as they will appear as one large worm. And clearly, like in Bryan’s case, their illusion is successful!

Video of Fungus Gnat Larva

In conclusion, the gigantic worm with many eyes that Bryan found in the mountains is actually a fungus gnat larvae train. Though they are not necessarily rare, it’s not every day you see one of these, so Bryan should count himself lucky! These critters are completely harmless, so we recommend that Bryan just let them be. We hope this answers his questions, and we wish him the very best!

 

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Summary
Giant Worm with Eyes All Over Body is actually a Fungus Gnat Larvae Train
Article Name
Giant Worm with Eyes All Over Body is actually a Fungus Gnat Larvae Train
Description
"?Can you please identify this strange-looking worm?" asks Bryan about the odd-looking creature pictured below. "It’s approximately six-inches long, and if you zoom in it looks like it has eyes all over its body, very strange! I took this video in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina." Well, Bryan might be surprised to know that those are indeed eyes all over the "body", though it isn't just one body, but many. This isn't just one worm, it's a moving pile of them, kind of. They're not technically worms, but larvae: specifically, fungus gnat larvae.
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Author: Worm Researcher Anton

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