Worms that Bite Arms, or “Limb Boring Worms”


We received a very interesting question from a reader in Germany about a worm that may have bitten her mother’s arm – or “sucked upon” her mother’s arm – while she slept. The reader referred to the worm as “limb boring,” which is fitting since the worm evidently did some damage to her mother’s arm, producing an open wound about the size of a 5 pence coin (which is about the size of a dime). The reader initially didn’t believe her mother, thinking she must be mistaken about what happened, but this Christmas she visited her mom, who showed her the scar from the worm bite. Moreover, the reader found a dried worm in a vent near her mother’s bedroom, and the vent was spattered with dry blood. The reader is now unsure what to think, and wrote to us to see if her mother’s story about the biting worm is at all possible.

Since the story is quite interesting, bizarre, and well-articulated, we have decided to include the reader’s entire message:

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“This is a strange story which I will try to keep short. My 81 yr old mother living in Lincolnshire, told me last November that she had been bitten – or sucked upon by a worm like creature in the night while asleep! I asked lots of questions on the telephone (I live in Germany), to be told that she woke up with an open wound on her arm about the size of a 5p, which she had to put a plaster on. She saw something moving in the room but couldn’t catch it (she is partially sighted!). I thought nothing of it as she is living alone and feeling very isolated and vulnerable since my step father died last yr. We spent Christmas with her and she showed me a scar on her arm consistent with her story. During our visit I spotted a dead dried up worm hanging from a vent in the ceiling near her bedroom door and not only that the vent itself looked to be spattered with dried blood. My partner can confirm this and I have kept the dried worm as I was hoping to get it analyzed…is this possible at all? It’s all pretty freaky and I would very much like to know if there are such creatures that could come into the house like that? I have never heard of such a thing and as mum reads the Daily Mail as if it’s the bible I have to say that when she told me on the phone that she had read about house worms I just laughed….now of course I’m a bit confused!”

Confused indeed. We have never heard of anything like this, and without seeing a picture of the worm in question, it is difficult to make any identifications. However, one creature that immediately comes to mind is a leech, which tend to be a black or at least dark color. Their bodies are often featureless, but they sometimes have markings like spots and stripes. Leeches have suckers on both ends of their bodies, and it is the oral sucker that attaches to a person’s body to feed. (The sucker on the back end of a leech’s body is used for movement.) The reader specifically said her mother was “sucked upon,” and this is exactly what happens when a leech attaches to a host. So, assuming our reader’s mother was in fact bitten by some sort of worm, it may have been a leech (and leeches technically are worms because they are annelids).

There are, of course, obviously problems with this hypothesis, with the major one being that leeches don’t just crawl into houses and feed on people in the middle of the night. We have never heard of this happening, and we haven’t been able to find any accounts of this either. However, we suppose it isn’t completely inconceivable – there are definitely leeches in the U.K., and although most leeches live in aquatic environments, there are terrestrial species. Also, a leech could potentially crawl through a house vent, as this is how lots of creatures that end up in houses get in.

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So, overall, we don’t know what bit our reader’s mother, or if anything bit her at all, and the only possibility we can think of is a leech, however unlikely this may be. We recommend that our reader look into leeches a bit to see if the dried worm she found looks at all like a leech, as this is probably the best way to figure out what she found.

Worms that Bite Arms, or
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Worms that Bite Arms, or
We received a very interesting question from a reader in Germany about a worm that may have bitten her mother's arm - or "sucked upon" her mother's arm - while she slept.

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