Page 1 of 1

Unknown worm in cave

PostPosted: Sep 19, 2005 10:15 am
by Sean Ryan
I was in Elephant's Den Cave, MA for the NRO last Saturday, and found something living in a puddle. There was some plant debris which had sprouted roots and some dead bugs in there, and at first I thought a root was swaying in the current. But this was a puddle; there was no current.

It was a very thin worm, brown, not segmented, a foot long and about as thick as a human hair. I had never seen anything like it. Anyone know if this is an established cave organism? Or maybe a surface organism that got stuck in the puddle and had enough food to get by?

PostPosted: Sep 19, 2005 10:45 am
by Lynn
Did they look like horsehair worms?

See photo's here:

PostPosted: Sep 19, 2005 12:06 pm
by Sean Ryan
Yeah, it really did look like that. People on the surface had suggested horsehair worms, but there was an idea that horsehair worms were only white. The pictures show all shades of brown, so I think you just solved the puzzle. It must have gotten washed in the cave during a storm.

PostPosted: Sep 19, 2005 1:01 pm
by Lynn
I have seen them in cave pools too and in a variety of colors. Perhaps someone who knows more about these critters might post more information so we can learn a bit more.

PostPosted: Sep 28, 2005 7:04 am
by Scott McCrea
Here's a cool (?)... interesting (?)... disturbing (?) video of a horse hair worm vs. a praying mantis.

More informatioin on horsehair worm

PostPosted: Apr 13, 2007 11:09 am
by gillip
From A Guide to Missouri's Cave Life by William R. Elliott, Missouri Department of Conservation.
"Gordius sp.: A gordian worm or nematomorph, about 20 cm long, is the free-living adult form of the parasite that lives in camel crickets. The adult escapes from a blister on the side of the cricket and lives in pools. Crickets are re-infected form ingesting the eggs while drinking the water."
Yet another reason to never drink the water in caves.
The guidebook this is quoted from has great pictures of cave life encountered in the Ozarks. It is available online at: ... 20life.pdf

PostPosted: Apr 13, 2007 5:11 pm
by Grandpa Caver
FINALLY...I know what they are! I've found a few of the worms in a usually wet shipping dock at work. I managed to collect one of them but it stopped moving shortly after being removed from the water and no one would believe me when I said it had appeared to be alive. One supervisor, after examining it asked me what I'd been smoking. I ca'nt wait to "educate" them next week!