We recently heard from a reader from Cool, California who discovered some worms in the water bowl for her animals (which includes horses, dogs, raccoons, and skunks). She assumed they are horsehair worms, but is cautious with that guess because they are considerably shorter than most horsehair worms. She says she has relocated them to a pond, but hopes we can offer some insight.
She also sent in a photo that shows several worms, varying in size from 2-8 inches. The worms appear to be light brown and slightly translucent.
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We agree with our reader’s initial guess that these are horsehair worms. Although they are smaller than mature horsehair worms, they could be babies. There are thousands of species of these, many of which reside in freshwater. Horsehair worms are parasitic to insects, but not to mammals (including humans). They enter a host and then eject themselves when they sense they are near water. Perhaps a beetle, or some other insect host, was drinking water or landed on the bowl and the horsehair worm deposited itself and laid eggs.
We recommend our reader clean the bowl vigorously to remove any potential eggs that have yet to hatch. She could also clean these bowls and replace the water more frequently if she was concerned.
In conclusion, a reader reached out to us to identify some worms in her animals’ water bowls. We agree with her primary assumption that these are horsehair worms.
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