horsehair worms

(Order Gordioidea)

Overview
horsehair worm (Order Gordioidea)
Photo by Greg Watson
 

Gordioidea is an order of parasitic horsehair worms. It is the only order in the class Gordioida. There are about 320 (Wikipedia) or 356 (Encyclopedia of Life) species in 18 genera in 2 families worldwide, at least four species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 2 species in Minnesota.

Larvae are parasites of insects, mostly grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids (Orthoptera). They feed on and absorb nutrients from the gut of their host. It is thought that they influence the behavior of their host, bringing them near water when the adult is ready to emerge.

Adults are free-living. They are found usually in freshwater habitats, sometimes in semi-aquatic habitats, or inside terrestrial hosts usually near water. They do not feed, but may absorb nutrients through their body walls.

 
           
 
Description
 
 

Adults are very long, hair-like worms. They are 132to (1 to 3 mm) in diameter and are usually 12 to 16 (30 to 40 cm) long but some can grow up to 47 (120 cm) in length.

The body color is purplish-brown to black in most species, tan in some species. There is a blunt head and a swollen tail, but there are otherwise no distinguishing features that can be seen in the field without magnification. The body is unsegmented and is covered by a thick, two-layered cuticle. The outer layer often has groups of wart-like or pimple-like bumps (areoles). It does not have lateral rows of hairs (setae), but it does have bristles that aid in swimming. There is a vent (cloaca) at the rear end of the body but there is no mouth.

Inside there is a ventral cord containing nerve tracks but no similar dorsal cord.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 29, 30.

 
  11/5/2021      
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Kingdom

Animalia (animals)  
 

Phylum

Nematomorpha (horsehair worms)  
 

Class

Gordioida  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Family Chordodidae

Family Gordiidae

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

The order Gordioidea has no common name. The common name of the phylum Nematomorpha is horsehair worms, and is used here for convenience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Cloaca

The single posterior cavity, often called the vent, that serves as an opening for the release of intestinal waste, urinary waste, and sperm in most vertebrates (except most mammals) and some invertebrates.

 

Seta

A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in a Name?

The common name of the phylum “horsehair worms” comes from the belief that a horse hair can turn into a worm.

The scientific name of the class Gordioida refers to the way that male and female nematomorphs coil themselves into a tight ball during mating that resembles a Gordian knot.

 
 
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Greg Watson

 
 

Horsehair worm

I attached a video and a picture of a horsehair worm that I found in my water feature filter. It was really difficult to get a good picture of it because of its small diameter and movement. I then took a video of it with my phone.

  horsehair worm (Order Gordioidea)  
           
 
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Greg Watson

 
  horsehair worm Gordioidea 01
5/11/2021
 
   
 
About

10/13/2021

I attached a video and a picture of a horsehair worm that I found in my water feature filter. It was really difficult to get a good picture of it because of its small diameter and movement. I then took a video of it with my phone.

   
       
 
Other Videos
 
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heroshotGG
 
   
 
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Jul 24, 2012

Parasite comes out of Praying Mantis. What is it?

   
  경악!!! 사마귀에서 연가시 8마리 Gordioidea
no africa
 
   
 
About

Nov 16, 2012

헐 ㄷㄷㄷ8마리
Gordioidea

   
  경악!!! 사마귀에서 연가시 Paragordius tricuspidatus from mantis Gordioidea
no africa
 
   
 
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Nov 10, 2018

경악!!! 사마귀에서 연가시 꿈틀꿈틀

Google Translate: astonished!!! Wriggling from a praying mantis

   
  Гидробиология Забайкалья. Конский волос, волосатик (Nematomorpha: Gordioidea)
Dmitry Matafonov
 
   
 
About

Apr 8, 2017

The underwater video of horsehair worm (Nematomorpha: Gordioidea) in Lake Gusinoe, Buryatia (Russia).

Подводное видео волосатика (Nematomorpha: Gordioidea) в озере Гусиное (Бурятия). Волосатик (в народе "конский волос") паразитирует в наземных беспозвоночных животных и не опасен для человека.

Google Translate: Underwater video of a hairy whale (Nematomorpha: Gordioidea) in Lake Gusinoe (Buryatia). The hairy worm (popularly "horsehair") is a parasite in terrestrial invertebrates and is not dangerous to humans.

   

 

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  Greg Watson
7/6/2021

Location: La Crescent MN

I attached a video and a picture of a horsehair worm that I found in my water feature filter. It was really difficult to get a good picture of it because of its small diameter and movement. I then took a video of it with my phone.

horsehair worm (Order Gordioidea)

 
           
 
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Created: 11/6/2021

Last Updated:

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