Our job is receiving and responding to the many queries we get from readers all over the world regarding the worm-like creatures they discover, but far too many times there have been cases where readers have limited themselves from getting a proper identification by handling the worm improperly. This article will outline some points on what NOT to do when you find a worm, so that you can maximize your chances of identifying the worm and figuring out how you can solve the potential problems that arise with this discovery.
First of all, and most importantly, do not kill the worm immediately upon discovery. There are various reasons for this. If you wish to get the worm identified, then killing it is naturally going to distort its features and make it leagues harder to pick out the creature’s characteristics that are unique to its species. Furthermore, many species of worms or insects should not be killed because they are actually beneficial to the environment or to the household itself. Such creatures include earthworms, millipedes and redworms (all of which are composting organisms which help break down decomposing organic matter), and spiders and centipedes (which rid the house of other pests such as mites, flies and moths). Likewise, certain species of worms that are found in the home or the garden can also be endangered, such as certain species of snails. That is something you must take into account, especially considering that so many species of animals go extinct every day.
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Secondly, do not start spraying insecticides all over your home or garden. There are plenty of reasons for not doing this. Firstly, it might prove completely unnecessary, depending on the worm you are dealing with. Certain species of ‘worms’ do not react at all to insecticides or have developed immunity to them, such as cockroaches, bed bugs, and carpet beetle larvae. Furthermore, spraying insecticides all over your home may not be a good health choice, for you or others (depending on what type of building you live in). Many will find a worm in their toilet and then start spraying insecticides down their toilet and all their drains, but one cannot know the repercussions of spraying chemicals into the water system, as one does not know exactly where that water ends up.
Additionally, spraying insecticides in your garden and on plants can actually have negative affects on plant growth if enough is sprayed so that it sinks into the soil. Likewise, if you sprays insecticides all over your garden, and some other organism, such as a bird, eats something from the garden that has been sprayed, the insecticide will end up in their system and can be toxic for their health. Then that will also end up in the system of whatever predator might eat that bird, and it will end up affecting a string of animals in the food chain.
Thirdly, if you finds a worm in your toilet, there is no need to immediately panic and assume you have a parasite. We understand the concern, and you should always question the origin of a worm and seek to find out if it could have any relation to your health (especially if you are experiencing any symptoms), but a lot of the time what people think is a parasite in their toilet is simply an earthworm, or some kind of bloodworm. Most of the species of worms that are found in toilets (which are not parasitic) are harmless worms that have wound up there either by accident, or because they feed on decomposing organic matter, and the toilet has not been properly cleaned, or there is a build up of organic matter in the pipes. Of course, we do want to stress that if you have reasonable cause to believe you have a parasite, or any other medical problem for that matter, go consult a medical professional immediately.
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To conclude, these are the three main things to not do when you find a worm. As the motto of this website states, All About Worms is “your place to find out all about worms, caterpillars, and other (not so) creepy crawlies.” Thus, to make your lives and our work a little easier, when you find a worm, simply take a picture of it and send the picture over to us with a fair amount of context (including the country or city where the worm was found, where it was found, and what problems it may be causing, if any). Naturally, if you are not comfortable leaving certain details, then do not feel obligated to. We also advise that if you think a certain worm you have found is a parasite, then keep a sample or two of them to take to a medical professional or ‘expert parasite-identifier’. We hope this article helps with future worm discoveries!