Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Horsehair Worms

A horsehair worm and its former host.
Alastair Rae
/
Flickr
A horsehair worm and its former host.

The common name of this creature comes from it's resemblance to a hair from a horse's tail or mane.

Nematomorpha (sometimes called Gordiacea, and commonly known as horsehair worms, hairsnakes, or Gordian worms) are a phylum of parasitoid animals superficially similar to nematode worms in morphology, hence the name. Most species range in size from 50 to 100 millimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) long, reaching 2 metres in extreme cases, and 1 to 3 millimetres (0.039 to 0.118 in) in diameter.

Horsehair worms can be discovered in damp areas, such as watering troughs, swimming pools, streams, puddles, and cisterns. The adult worms are free-living, but the larvae are parasitic on arthropods, such as beetles, cockroaches, mantids, orthopterans, and crustaceans.

Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.