A little while back, we received a very detailed email from a reader about a worm, or what is believed to be a worm, that he encountered. The reader described his situation in some detail: he was sitting on his porch, which is enclosed by screens, when he felt as if he was being bitten on his arm. In response, he examined his arm and found what appeared to be a very small thread. However, the “thread” moved, becoming longer and then contracting again. Because of this movement, the reader concluded that he had come across an extremely small worm. Later, the reader found a few additional tiny worms on his arms and legs.
[NOTE: This reader did not submit a picture with their question. The featured image is of another small black “worm” from our archives.]
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Unfortunately, some contradictory information was given. At first, the worm is described as a “tiny skinny black thing,” but then a sentence later, the reader says the creature “isn’t really black” – rather, it is red from blood (from sucking blood, perhaps?). Moreover, the worm “had a slightly larger bulge at one end, which [the reader] realized was a head,” but then exactly the opposite was said later in the reader’s description. Despite the inconsistencies in the description, we’ll try our best to offer some information.
To begin, the worm our reader found doesn’t really sound like a worm, primarily because of its size. While there are certainly small worms in existence, the reader described the creature he found as “very very tiny,” which leads us to think that he might have found some sort of larvae. The larval stage is part of the life cycle of creatures like flies and moths – they are what emerge from the eggs. Without more information, we simply cannot say what kind of larvae our reader might have come across (if indeed he is dealing with larvae at all). Because the reader (kind of) implied that they were a blackish color, the creatures probably aren’t fly or flea larvae, which are a pale, white color. Indeed, this seems to be the case with many forms of larvae, as the larvae of the moth fly, a common type of larvae found, are also a pale, white color. In any case, these types of larvae, or really any kind of larvae that we are aware of, are not known to bite, much less suck blood.
Given this fact about larvae, it is conceivable that our reader has found extremely small leeches, which would explain the biting and sucking of blood our reader experienced. Leeches are often a blackish hue, and they do have heads that are discernible from the rest of their bodies (even though it isn’t clear if the reader’s creatures have discernible heads). Most leeches live in aqueous environments, so if our reader did find leeches, they most likely attached themselves when our reader was in water. However, a few species live in terrestrial habitats, so our reader still may be dealing with leeches even if he hadn’t been in water before finding these creatures.
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Based on the physical description of the creature our reader found, it sounds like some type of larvae, which are common, and therefore it wouldn’t be unusual to find them around one’s home. However, the fact the reader described being bitten, and also that the creature seemed to suck blood, leads us to think that he might actually be dealing with a very small leech. Yet another possibility is that our reader has Morgellons worm (a.k.a. Morgellons disease), a bizarre ailment that some believe is carried by nematodes, but the disease is not recognized as a parasitic infection by most of the medical community. We are not medical doctors, though, so this of course does not count as any sort of diagnosis, and we only mention it because of the considerable uncertainty surrounding our reader’s situation. Better to include too much than too little, at least in this situation.
Unfortunately, we can’t be certain what our reader is dealing with, but hopefully the options we listed help.