A woman has written to us asking for help identifying the worms she found crawling and wriggling in and on her banana. She has provided us with both a picture and a video. You might note that it’s hard to see anything in this picture except for banana (or maybe a banana wearing eyeglasses, if you use your imagination). But, if you watch the video closely, you can see little tiny creatures swaying slowly, as though they’re waving hello.
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Our reader has encountered the creature known as Panagrellus Nepenthicola. Also known as the banana worm, Panagrellus Nepenthicola is known for being banana colored. Because it is the same color as its background, the banana worm is notoriously difficult to photograph. Looking on the internet, we found this picture, which user Kookaburra posted to the WaiTalk Community Forum:
Banana worms. Photo courtesy Kookaburra and WaiTalk.com
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Not to be mistaken for banana slugs (which are quite large and, well, slugs), banana worms are teeny tiny nematode worms (also known as roundworms) that like to live in bananas. These worms are often raised to be used as food for baby fish in aquariums. In fact, you can buy them on the internet quite easily.
We suspect our reader is concerned about possible health risks associated with possibly eating banana worms. Because they’re so small and hard to see, it is not outside the realm of possibility that any of us who have ever eaten a banana have accidentally consumed these. The good news is that there is no reason to believe that these are any danger to us.
However, as always, we counsel anyone who is concerned about worm infestation to contact their doctor. We’re not doctors here at All About Worms, and we are not attempting to give medical advice.
What we are attempting to do is to not scare people away from eating bananas, which are very good for you and a great source of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. So, no one should avoid bananas because of the prospect of eating a couple of teeny tiny worms that most of us will never notice. To be perfectly frank, we all eat worms and bugs and other stuff, it’s just life.
We hope that we have helped our reader by identifying her little buddy as Panagrellus Nepenthicola, and that she can rest assured that she can continue eating bananas with abandon. If she has an aquarium with spawning fish, she may even want to read up on how to raise banana worms to feed to the fry.