A reader wrote to us recently about “what appears to be hammerhead worms stuck to the ceiling of [her nephew’s] carport.” The reader only asked us if we “have ever heard of this,” so she evidently is only curious about the very limited matter of whether or not we have ever heard of hammerhead worms on the ceiling of a carport. We’ll limit ourselves to this question, but since we have written about hammerhead worms several times before, we will also point to some additional articles about these creatures.
The reader didn’t send any picture of the worms, so we can’t confirm if she did in fact find hammerhead worms, although we have no reason to doubt her. She only mentioned that the worms she found look like “baby snakes,” and that they have been around the carport for about two weeks, and neither one of these observations compromises her hammerhead-worm identification. (For the sake of being thorough, we should note that she technically found one species of hammerhead worm, as there are several different kinds, and together they form the genus Bipalium.) Moreover, because of the distinct shapes of their heads – they do in fact have “hammerheads,” in the same way that hammerhead sharks have “hammerheads” – they are relatively easy to identify.
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We have never specifically heard of hammerhead worms on a carport ceiling, but there is no reason why they couldn’t be found there. We don’t know exactly why the hammerhead worms were found in that precise location, but they are relatively common worms, so they could be found all over the place, like earthworms. (Coincidentally, earthworms are the prey of hammerhead worms, who are an invasive species in the U.S. and Europe.) Also like earthworms, they require moisture to survive, so they generally spend their time in the soil, coming out only after it rains.
This raises the obvious question of why the worms are spending their time on the ceiling of a carport, but perhaps there is some source of moisture in the area – a leak in the roof perhaps, or a clogged gutter filled with rain water that is seeping through the ceiling. As chance would have it, we found an article in U.S. News & World Report about hammerhead worms in which one of the sources of the story, Paul Kittle, a professor in the Biology Department at the University of North Alabama, reported that on several occasions he found hammerhead worms on his carport specifically. Again, we don’t know why they were there in particular, and they are obviously found in many other places – we wrote an article about hammerhead worms in the toilet, for example – but it at least demonstrates that a carport isn’t the strangest place to find hammerhead worms.
So, we had not, prior to writing this article, heard of hammerhead worms on the ceiling of a carport, but their presence there isn’t completely surprising. Moreover, other people have found them there too, so perhaps carports make for a more hospitable environment than one might imagine, presumably for some moisture-related reason.
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