Horsehair Worm: Let’s delve in to the factors

Horsehair worms are basically round worms which are like threads, similar to the mane as well as the tail hair of the horse. They are able to grow more than one foot long (approximately 0.3 meters). They One can never find them alone; instead they remain tangled with each other resembling a loose ball, similar to the Gordian knot. The scientific name given to them is due to their features of twisting. And, not only by the name Horsehair worm, they are also known as Gordian worms or Cabbage hair worms in few areas of the world. Different from the other worms these are not dangerous in nature and do not damage plants neither do they hurt animals or humans.

They are found mostly in ponds, channels, lakes, etc where normally animals live . They are also found in water-dishes of pets, swimming –pools, bird-baths and also in side-walk puddles in seasons of heavy rains. In few occasions they can also be found on the damp plants of the garden and in saturated –soil. These worms have the mating season during the spring and early summer months and choose humid and water filled areas like in water or in dirt (wet). The female Horsehair worm lays more than a million eggs, all which are connected to small thin threads. The egg hatches in a span of 2-3 weeks into minute larvae. There are two theories which explain the maturation procedure of the eggs into the larvae. They appear first to be white in color, afterwards they turn yellowish or into dark chocolate color.

As per the first theory of maturation, the larva attaches itself to the plants found near the ponds. When the level of water reduces then the other insects like crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, etc would search for bare and exposed plants to have them as food. The larva would then remove its shells and would inject itself into these insects which come near the plants to absorb nutrients. This would continue till they are mature enough. One they are fully grown they leave the body of the host. According to the second theory, the larvae enters the not fully grown insects like mayflies, bugs, dragon flies, etc which feed on the water surface till the host is matured . Once these tiny insects reach the maturity level, then the larvae would come out from the body of the host. However , whatever theory one accepts, the host is bound to die once the worm leaves its body.

Horsehair worms are beneficial in keeping a control on the level of cockroaches, grasshoppers, centipedes, and other kinds of related pests which causes harm to crops and garden plants. If these worms are found in toilets or sinks, swimming pools, etc. then you use chemicals or filters to get rid of them . To avoid the growth and breeding of these worms in animal troughs, it is always advisable to flush and clean them occasionally .

Some believe that the Horsehair worm which are seen within homes are due to the presence of internal parasites. But in reality it is not so. The sole reason why these are spotted in homes is when the larger insects which act as a host to them are crushed or killed within homes or gardens. One can avert their coming into homes by using caulking or by sealing the cracks. By doing this you would be able to decrease the entry of the larger insects which might have the larvae of the horsehair worm within them. One humorous fact or better said a myth is that, when the hair of the horse falls into water, it comes alive by some unknown reasons, which take the form of horsehair worms, and so named the same. Trust this at your own risk!

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