A woman out for a casual stroll around her pond got a gross surprise when she discovered something resembling a two foot long worm wriggling around in the water. She describes it as having a hooked tail and then turns the camera off to fish it out of the water for further examination. She notes it seems more distressed once it was removed from the water.
Many commenters identified this creepy-not-so-crawly creature as a horsehair worm, a parasite that feeds on arthropods. These aquatic parasitic worms are usually found in watering troughs, swimming pools, streams, puddles, cisterns, and ponds. The adult worms are free-living and only the larvae are parasitic. They are considered harmless to humans and pets - or at least pets that don’t have an exoskeleton.
This specimen does seem to be a particularly large example though, as most species are only a few inches long. Extreme specimens reaching up to five or six feet have been documented.
While the horsehair worm is very string-like in appearance, there are tales of other chunkier and vicious five foot long worms in history. The Mongolian death worm is said to be large enough to devour a human man and swims through the sands of the Gobi Desert like the fictional giant sand worms of Frank Herbert’s Dune. They are said to be able to spit a venom so powerful it can kill with just two drops, and some say it can release electric shocks similar to eels.
Such tales of giant, man-eating beasts make the strange horsetail worm seem like a manageable problem.
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