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parasitic worm

 
pollinator
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Here's a worm I have never seen before.  I live in SW Washington state, near Portland, Oregon.




A short blurry video showing it moving its head around:


It was definitely not an earthworm.  I'd say it was around 80mm long and 0.5 mm in diameter.  It was moving around on a branch in in my brush pile.  It has been showery here for a week so everything is moist.

Anybody know what this is?
 
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I feel like a long time ago i saw something like that in the shallows of a lake.
I am no expert but perhaps it is some kind of very large tubifex worm which is normally aquatic so it would be strange unless there is some body of water or perhaps a septic tank leech field...

Personally if I saw this I would somewhat feel like killing it, in fear it was a parasite.

I used to have a dog who was afraid of worms, it would bark at them, then roll over on top of them and literally flatten them to death.

Sides, a surfaced earthworm is an eaten earthworm round here.
 
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It looks like a Horse Hair Worm or Gordian worm and if it is then yes, Smile, it's a parasite.

Here's another photo with a video :

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/2315268298/



 
Emil Spoerri
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I'm a little mixed on my fear of parasites too. I have heard many good things about them. Giant worms that aren't quite the right shape give me the heebeejeebees... even more so after reading this thread.
 
Dave Miller
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Thanks Irene, I think you nailed it. 

I too initially cringed at the thought of it as a parasite until I saw the list of what it parisitizes:

grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, beetles, and katydids, as well as dragonflies, caddisflies, millipedes, centipedes, spiders, crustaceans, leaches, snails, slugs, and other invertebrates - http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/e614horsehair.html

I say let it parasitize all the slugs & snails it wants!
 
Irene Kightley
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Adunca,

That's a really nice link, thanks.

I must admit I winced a bit when I saw the video and it's a shame that worms and snakes both have a very bad press.

Now that I know more about the horse worm I feel comfortable with them and I look out for them with interest. I also really enjoy seeing snakes now and watching them watching me instead of just chasing them off. 
 
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Irene Kightley wrote:it's a shame that worms and snakes both have a very bad press.



I had much the same thought recently, when my town got drunk to celebrate the expulsion of pagans from Ireland.
 
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