“I recently found tiny brown worms on the cucumber in my vivarium”, states this reader in her submission. “Do you know what this is? And is it harmful? I’m in the UK.” Now, the creature in the image is so tiny and nondescript that it really could be any number of things, though our best guess is that it is not a harmful worm, but one of the many that can occur in a vivarium that serve to break down the organic matter inside. The fact that they are eating the cucumber would suggest this, and for that reason, they are likely beneficial to the vivarium. Of course, we do not know if the vivarium contains any animals for which the cucumber was intended, and in that case, we understand that our reader is concerned, in the case that the worms are harmful to eat (some species of worms can contain diseases, pathogens and/or parasites).
That said, we should mention that this might not be a worm at all, but an insect larva. We considered all of the usual pests that eat vegetables and fruits, such as pickleworms, cucumber beetles, fungus gnats, but none of their larvae matched the one in our reader’s photo. Now, given this creature’s apparent “worminess”, by which we mean its ability to twist its body in a way that suggests the lack of an exoskeleton, it is possible that this is not an insect larva. Of course, this is mere speculation based on a characteristic that is not necessarily missing in all insect larvae.
What we suggest our reader do is take this piece of cucumber with the worms on it and move it to a separate container with air holes. Wait as they feed on the cucumber, and keep feeding them if they run out, and see what they might mature into. If they are insect larvae, they will eventually pupate (form a chrysalis in which they will metamorphose into their final, adult form), and after that they will reveal themselves as whatever insect they are, whether that is a butterfly, beetle or fly. That said, if it never matures into anything, then it is probably a worm.
Additionally, there is not much our reader can do so far as getting rid of these worms in her vivarium without potentially harming the other life inside it, especially since these are so small: their eggs are likely microscopic. Now, if there are animals and they are suffering health conditions as a result of these worms, our reader should move the animals to a new container and take them to the vet for deworming. After that, they should not be moved back into the same vivarium.
In conclusion, we are not sure what it is our reader found in her vivarium, though we think it is likely a beneficial worm that will help break down the organic materials our reader puts in there. Despite not being able to provide a solid identification, we hope we were able to help in some small way. We wish our reader the very best!
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.