“Very thin, little red worms” have been coming from this woman’s tap in La Union, the Philippines. She asks that we help identify the critters and provide insight on how to get rid of them completely.
Red Midge Fly Larvae Coming From Tap
Our reader elaborates upon this, saying that she has been living in a new apartment for a couple of months now, in which the water tank is connected to a deep well which is used by the entire neighborhood. She discovered that the worms were coming from her “tap water”. Following this, she cleaned out the water tank, and upon doing so did not see more of the worms for a few weeks, after which the worms returned. She also sent in a video, which we have linked below, though it is difficult to tell what the worms look like given the poor lighting in which the video was taken. Nonetheless, our reader described the worms as being “thin like hair”, no more than a centimeter in length, and swimming/wriggling fast. The worms do not swim in clusters, but freely, and after some time, the worms cling to the sides of her “water bucket” or rest at the bottom. From our reader’s descriptions, as well as the context in which these worms were found, we would suppose that these are the larvae of the midge fly.
Midge fly larvae, commonly referred to under the umbrella category as a ‘bloodworm’, are marine organisms which feed on decaying organic matter. For that reason, they commonly infest pipe systems, as well as puddles, ponds, lakes and mulch. They get their red color from their production of hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen in the red blood cell. It is likewise their production of hemoglobin that gives them the ability to survive underwater and in other low-oxygen conditions. Furthermore, a fun fact about midge flies is that while the larvae can live up to three years, once they have matured into an adult midge fly (which resembles a mosquito but does not eat the blood of humans) they can only sustain life for a few weeks at most.
Now, we would assume that these midge fly larvae found their way into the water system because there was something in the communal well that attracted these critters. Be it some decomposing organic matter or algae, there was something that led these midge fly larvae into the well. But also, given that it is a body of fresh water, it makes sense that midge fly larvae would just generally be attracted to this type of environment. As an unfortunate consequence, these larvae have now ended up in the water system. If our reader cleaned her own water tank but the worms returned then we can only assume that it is not the fault of our reader that these larvae showed up, but that it has something to do with the well. Thus, there is likely nothing our reader herself can do to eradicate this infestation. She will need to contact whoever is in charge of dealing with the communal troubles of her neighborhood and inform them of the problem. Perhaps our reader can also ask some of her neighbors if they have been experiencing the same thing?
To conclude, the thin, red worms our reader has been finding in her tap water are midge fly larvae. These critters are harmless to humans but can understandably be an unwelcome sight in one’s water supply. Unfortunately, if it is the communal well that is infested, then there is not much our reader can do to help the situation besides contact someone who can make sure that the well is cleaned out. We wish our reader the best of luck with this, and that the issue is resolved soon.