A reader recently reached out to us because she found some “wriggling worms” outside her house. She said the creatures were about 1/8 inch long or less, so pretty small! After she took a photo of the worms, they “formed a circle and fell through a crack in the walkway.” This is the picture she shared with us:
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What could these light brown worms be? It appears that are several dozen of them intertwined. We believe these creatures could be Dark Wing Fungus Gnat larvae, also known as Sciaridae larvae. We have written a few other articles about this species, so we recognized the mass of wriggling worms!
Adult Dark Wing Fungus Gnats live on the types of fungal growth that grow in overwatered lawns and potted plants. The larvae, however, sometimes move in a ‘slick’ of mucous secretions they emit for protection while searching for a drier place to pupate. This relocation often occurs after heavy rains have oversaturated their original home! The behavior is similar to the way earthworms sometimes cover the sidewalks after heavy rains.
Adult fungus gnats can attack the fine root fibers of houseplants and prevent them from absorbing the water required to grow. Therefore, they can be considered a nuisance. There are a few things our reader can do to make her yard less hospitable to these gnats and their larvae. She can spread a thin layer of sand across the top of her flowerbeds and potted plants to reduce moisture. She can also make sure water is draining properly and not standing in the pots or flowerbeds.
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In summary, one of our readers reached out to us because she found a mass of wriggling worms outside her home. We determined these “worms” to be Dark Wing Fungus Gnat larvae.