What worms devour the body?

What worms devour the body?

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I was reading this site which broached comedones, an esoteric word to me; so I thought to look up its etymology which I find exceptionally singular and peculiar (I would have never guessed that the word originated from to eat up !) :

Etmyonline: "blackhead," etc., 1866, from Latin comedo "glutton," from comedere"to eat up"(see comestible). A name formerly given to worms that devour the body; transferred in medical use to secretions that resemble them.

Footnote: ODO also offers an etymology.

A maggot typically feeds on carrion. A maggot is the larva of a fly and usually particular to the larvae of Brachyceran flies, such as houseflies, cheese flies, and blowflies.

Interestingly decomposition from maggots has a lot of use in forensic science as the presence or development of maggots on a corpse can be useful to a forensic entomologists to determine the approximate time of death. Depending on the species and the conditions, maggots may be observed on a body within 24 hours. The eggs are laid on the body and when the eggs hatch, the maggots move towards their preferred conditions and begin to feed. Insects are usually useful 25-80 hours post mortem and is contingent on temp humidity and oxygen availability. After 80 hours, this method becomes less reliable.

Worm Anatomy

A worms body is made up of many segments called ‘annuli’. The length of a worms body has muscles which contract and relax which enables the worm to move along a surface. The ‘annuli’ are covered in tiny hairs called ‘setae’ which help the worms movement. Worms have no lungs, so they do not breathe like a human being or like many other animals. Instead, because they do need oxygen, they absorb the air through tiny pores in the skin and it goes straight into their bloodstream.

A worms skin must stay wet so the absorbing can take place, that is why they have a constant slimy look. However, if they have too much water, they can drown.

Worms also have no eyes, ears or nose so they cannot see, hear or smell. Worms do however, have light-detecting cells on their bodies that can detect harmful light conditions. The ultra-violet rays of the sun are harmful to worms – they can even kill them, that is why worms spend most of their time underneath the surface of the ground. A worm is also very sensitive to movement and can sense rain approaching and other creatures who might be a danger to them.

Believe it or not, a worm has actually got five hearts. Five hearts that pump blood around its’ body.

On the right, you will see how a worm looks inside. You can see the five hearts lined up down the centre of the worms insides, just below the oesophagus.

There is a common myth that has been around for a long time now that if you cut a worm in half, the two halves will grow into worms – making 2 worms out of 1. This is very untrue. It is true that if a worm loses part of its body it will survive, but if you cut a worm into 2 pieces, one half will surely die. The half with the saddle (the fatter, pink part) will burrow itself into the soil and survive. It is not a good idea to cut worms in half or any other creature for that matter – it is very cruel – so please do not be taken in by this myth and leave the worms whole.

Wax Worms Chew Right Through Plastic Bags

Science is riddled with lucky accidents and accidental discoveries. The most recent: A scientist and an amateur beekeeper accidentally discovered that wax worms, which normally feast on beeswax and honey, are also capable of digesting plastic bags.

Federica Bertocchini, a research biologist with the Spanish National research Council, came upon a colony of wax worms feasting on honeycomb panels stored in her house. “I removed the worms, and put them in a plastic bag while I cleaned the panels,” she says in a release. “After finishing, I went back to the room where I had left the worms and I found that they were everywhere. They had escaped from the bag even though it had been closed and when I checked, I saw that the bag was full of holes. There was only one explanation: The worms had made the holes and had escaped. This project began there and then.”

Current Biology published the findings on Monday. Further experiments found that 100 wax worms broke down 92 milligrams of plastic in 12 hours. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s miles ahead of other biodegradation processes. Experiments with degrading plastic using fungus and bacteria have failed to produced measurable decomposition over that timescale. Left alone, plastic bags take at least centuries to decompose, or as long as forever under certain environmental conditions.

The secret to this wax worm superpower is likely a digestive enzyme that the larva uses to break down wax, which has a similar carbon-carbon bond to the one found in polyethylene plastic. This enzyme may be produced by the worm itself, or perhaps by the microorganisms inside its gut. Either way, it seems actual chewing isn’t necessary — when the scientists smeared worm guts on plastic, it produced a similar effect. The worms even secrete the chemical after they have cocooned, it seems.

Bertocchini hopes to identify the enzyme and, hopefully, find a way to synthesize it cheaply in a lab so that it can be produced on a large scale. The outcome of the reaction between plastic and the enzyme is ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in most types of antifreeze, and a raw material used in the manufacture of polyester products, including clothing and plastic pop bottles. Currently fossil fuels are used in the industrial production of ethylene glycol — if this research goes well, recycled plastics could meet this demand instead.

Don’t expect the wax worm to somehow gobble up the world’s enormous plastic problem, though. Even if its digestive enzyme could be produced in large quantities and very cheaply, it’s not like we could just dump a whole bunch in the ocean and watch the garbage disappear. The costs of such of a scheme are sure to be enormous, and the environmental risks unfathomable.

The world’s plastic garbage problem is not so much a technical one — we know how to recycle plastic, we even know how to turn it back into usable fossil fuel. The problem is that it’s still way easier and cheaper to put plastic out into the world than it is to call it back. Wax worms may one day offer a way to get rid of some of it, but until we stop dumping it out onto the world in the first place, we can’t hope for these little larvae to save our wasteful butts.

A Woman Pooped Ascaris Worms After Eating Bagged Salad&mdashHere's What to Know

She shared her parasitic worm ordeal on TikTok&mdashwatch it here.

A prepackaged salad can be a tasty, nutritious meal on the go, but one woman got more than she&aposd bargained for from her veggies: She believes she contracted ascaris worms, a type of parasitic worm that required expensive antibiotics to cure.

"I have struggled with eating disorders my entire life and I was going through a phase where I only ate salads," TikTok user @jquelly, a woman from Montana named Jacqui, explained on a video shared to the social media platform. "My job required me to bring a lunch every day so I would bring one of these prepackaged salads."

After a few weeks, Jacqui started getting "really sick," taking naps every day, and feeling tired all the time. She also had a constant sore stomach, and one day at her son&aposs basketball practice she went to the bathroom and realized there was something pretty serious going on. At this point in the video, she warned squeamish viewers to look away, before sharing a photo of what ended up in the toilet. "No poop. Only worms," she said in the clip.

In a second video, Jacqui revealed that things got worse when she realized her insurance didn&apost cover the antibiotics she needed to get rid of the worms, which landed her with a $3,000 bill for three pills.

Theresa Fiorito, MD, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Family Travel Clinic at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, tells Health that ascaris worms are parasitic worms that aren&apost often seen in the US. "It&aposs a roundworm that&aposs found in warmer climates, in the soil, and you can get sick when you ingest the eggs," she explains. "But it&aposs more a disease of the tropics that&aposs sometimes seen in the southern US—it&aposs unusual to see it in Montana. "Jacqui&aposs doctor had the same reaction, telling her he hadn&apost seen a case like hers before.

James J. Lee, MD, gastroenterologist at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Seattle, tells Health that this roundworm can reach the size of 14 inches. "The main infection for the human occurs through ingesting contaminated soil with eggs, the so-called fecal oral route," he explains. Once in the small intestine, a worm can lay up to 200,000 eggs daily, he adds.

Most people who have parasitic worms are asymptomatic, Dr. Fiorito says. But if you have a serious infection, you can have abdominal pain, malnutrition, and a wide variety of other symptoms. "I once had a patient who vomited worms," she reveals.

There are a few different ways to treat parasitic worms, but Dr. Fiorito says one of the the most effective is a one-time, one-dose prescription medication, Albendazole. Jacqui didn&apost reveal what anti-parasitic med she took, but she told Buzzfeed that the pills worked really fast. "Within 2𠄳 days, I didn&apost see any more worms in my stool," she said. "The stomach aches went away within that time as well."

Left untreated, the worm can get larger and cause intestinal blockage, Dr. Fiorito warns. "In children, it can cause malnutrition and growth delays, including intellectual delays," she adds. To avoid getting infected, her advice is simple: "Wash that produce!" Because ascaris worms are pretty resistant to environmental stressors in the soil, produce needs to be washed well to be safe to eat. Apparently this didn&apost happen with the bagged salad Jacqui ate, and when she consumed it, her body became a worm host.

Jacqui stressed that her intention isn&apost to demonize any particular brand of salad, but to encourage people to talking about their health issues with their doctor, even the ones that seem gross. She added that she hopes people take several messages from her story: Pay attention to your body, have an open line of communication with your doctor, and wash your produce. even if it says it&aposs pre-washed.

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The red worm is a fairly simple organism. This said, it is striking at how well developed the digestive, circulatory, muscular, and excretory systems are. Most of these systems are contained in the “head”, that is within the first few segments of the body. The exception is the digestive system.

Every red worm has an external feature that is easily identifiable. These are the ridges or segments that occur along the organism. Red worms have a total of 95 segments. These segments perform different functions.

The red worm is designed for burrowing through soil. The head also acts as a shovel. Small retractable hairs reside in every segment of the body. The sole function of these hairs is locomotion. Burrowing is further facilitated by the secretion of mucus on the skin.

Each red worm is a hermaphrodite. Although it contains both male and female organs it needs a mate to reproduce. The result of reproduction is a cocoon containing anywhere from two to two hundred baby worms. These hatch in approximately three weeks. The average cocoon contains four baby worms.

Worms within the lion's body

An analogy for those who, despite being followers of Buddhism, destroy its teachings, just as worms born from the carcass of the lion devour the lion.

It is intended to point out that members of the Buddhist Order, rather than non-Buddhists, are capable of destroying Buddhism.

For example, the Benevolent Kings Sutra says that the upholders of the three treasures of Buddhism, and not non-Buddhists, will become the destroyers of the three treasures, just as worms within the lion's body devour the lion.

The Lotus-like Face Sutra tells that, though no other creature ventures to eat the flesh of a dead lion, the worms born from the lion's body devour it

likewise, though the Buddha's teachings cannot be destroyed by outside forces, evil monks who exist within "the body" of the Buddha's teachings can destroy them.


The deerflies (genus Chrysops) that pass Loa loa on to humans bite during the day. If a deerfly eats infected blood from an infected human, the larvae (non-adult parasites) will infect cells in its abdomen. After 7&ndash12 days the larvae develop the ability to infect humans. Then the larvae move to the mouth parts of the fly. When the deerfly breaks a human&rsquos skin to eat blood, the larvae enter the wound and begin moving through the person&rsquos body.

It takes about five months for larvae to become adult worms inside the human body. Larvae can become adults only inside the human body. The adult worms live between layers of connective tissue (e.g., ligaments, tendons) under the skin and between the thin layers of tissue that cover muscles (fascia). Fertilized females can make thousands of microfilariae a day. The microfilaria then move into the lymph vessels of the body (the lymph vessels contain the blood cells that fight infection). Eventually they move into the lungs where they spend most of their time. These microfilariae enter the blood from time to time, usually around midday. It takes five or more months for microfilariae to be found in the blood after someone is infected with Loa loa. The microfilariae can live up to one year in the human body. If they are not consumed in a blood meal by a deerfly they will die. Adult worms may live up to 17 years in the human body and can continue to make new microfilariae for much of this time.

Most people with loiasis do not have any symptoms. People who get infected while visiting areas with loiasis but do not come from areas where loiasis is found (travelers) are more likely to have symptoms. The most common manifestations of the disease are Calabar swellings and eye worm. Calabar swellings are localized, non-tender swellings usually found on the arms and legs and near joints. Itching can occur around the area of swelling or can occur all over the body. Eye worm is the visible movement of the adult worm across the surface of the eye. Eye worm can cause eye congestion, itching, pain, and light sensitivity. Although eye worm can be scary, it lasts less than one week (often just hours) and usually causes very little damage to the eye. People with loiasis can have itching all over the body (even when they do not have Calabar swellings), hives, muscle pains, joint pains, and tiredness. Sometimes adult worms can be seen moving under the skin. High numbers of blood cells called eosinophils are sometimes found on blood counts. Some people who are infected for many years may develop kidney damage though development of permanent kidney damage is not common. Other rare manifestations include painful swellings of lymph glands, scrotal swellings, inflammation of parts of the lungs, fluid collections around the lung, and scarring of heart muscle.

All Female Bone-Devouring Worms Fancy Dwarf Males, Except One

Our guest post is by Dr. Marah Hardt, a marine scientist and storyteller working to build a sustainable future for people and the sea. She is the Research Co-Director at Future of Fish and currently working on her first book, Sex in the Sea ( ). You can follow here on Twitter @Marahh2o .

Lateral (left) and partially dissected (right) views of a female Osedax priapus bone worm (scale: 1 mm). Credit: Greg Rouse

Fifteen years ago we didn’t know they existed. In 2002 a handful of deep-sea invert experts playing with some underwater robots discovered the females gorging on bones of dead whales at the bottom of the sea. It was several months later before they found the males*— tiny, glorified sacs of sperm, one hundred thousand times smaller than the female, living in enormous harems inside her tube. Dozens of species have since been described, all showing giant females with a fetish for microscopic males…until now.

A new study by Rouse et al., (star detectives of the continued Osedax chronicles) adds another twist to the mind-blowing bizarreness and total radness of bone-devouring zombie worms. In this latest episode, hordes of enslaved dwarf males everywhere may gain a ray of hope: we now know there is at least one species of Osedax who has escaped the clutches of tiny-tude—rejoice, for the independent male Osedax has been found!

Meet Osedax priapus, from the Latin “os” for bone, and “edax” for devour, the species name “priapus” stems from the Greek god of procreation and “personification of the phallus.” Oh yes. These males are not only independent, they likely use their manly trunks as a penis to directly transfer sperm to the females. Say hello to the bone-devouring-I-am-my-penis worm.

Proposed motto: why have a penis, when you can be a penis?

A close-up view (scale: 0.5 mm) of a male Osedax priapus (bone worm) on a seal bone. Credit: Greg Rouse

To recap for those of you not up to speed on the overarching awesomeness of Osedax, theirs is a life straight out of a B-grade alien flick. These annelid tube worms lack mouth or gut, so they can’t eat. Instead, taking a play out of the plant book, adults grow root-like structures with bulbous ends that protrude into decaying bones of dead animals on the seafloor. The roots dissolve the hard parts of the bone and then the remaining protein or fat is passed through the skin to symbiotic bacteria inside the roots. The worms then use the bacteria for food. Bonus bizarreness: these “roots” grow out from around the ovisac—it’s like a fibrous network of fallopian tube food-factories.

This ain’t your garden variety earthworm.

A close-up view (scale: 0.25 mm) of a male Osedax priapus dissected from a bone. Credit: Greg Rouse

In addition to that, the females were known for this strange sexual obsession with stunted males. The current theory is that the first larvae worms to arrive to a whale fall develop as females later worms settling onto female-covered bones transform into males, likely responding to a cue put out by the females. It’s a kind of environmentally controlled sex determination (ESD).

But these males aren’t just mini-me’s of the female. The trigger to become male halts the development of all adult features, except for the testes—those bad boys are fully grown, pumping sperm through a long gonadal duct from the back to the front end of the body, where it’s released through a pore just above the brain. Osedax males are basically larvae with gigantic testes that ejaculate out of the their heads.

Key aspects of the Osedax priapus bone worm. By Adi Khen

Except for Osedax priapus. This species has large, free-living males, approaching the size of the females and capable of attaching to bones with that crazy root-structure. What’s especially impressive about this find is it shows evolutionary reversal of extremely complex characters. When your ancestors are all dwarf paedomorphs, it’s not easy to be a root-bearing giant phallus living the free life.

Yet, after running multiple phylogenetic analyses, Rouse et al. conclude that the most likely ancestry of O. priapus, is a species with extreme sexual dimorphism, aka, dwarf males. With its size, symbionts, and trunk structure, O. priapus represents one of the first times a reversal from paedomorphism has been documented in an animal (and it raises the question of the potential role of genetics in sex determination).

Although O. priapus has made giant strides away from a parasitic life, it is not completely free of its past. Like dwarf males of other Osedax species, O. priapus males still have free swimming sperm that shoot out from the top of their head. Free swimming sperm work well if you are a dwarf male living inside the female. Your sperm swim down the oviduct right to the eggs in the ovary. But free sperm don’t swim so well in seawater. Rouse et al. speculate that O. priapus males overcome this challenge through the use of their remarkably flexible trunk, reaching in to fertilize nearby females, much like the impressively extendable penis of some barnacles. Prehensile penises are a marvel.

Why and how O. priapus changed course from dwarf to free-living male remains a mystery. One hypothesis is that dwarfism benefits species with extremely limited resources: larger females would be able to produce more eggs, but they would monopolize the resource, making a dwarf male lifestyle advantageous. In O. priapus, the females are some of the smallest of any Osedax species, which means that there might be more room for males to squeeze in on the bone-devouring. Rouse et al. also note that O. priapus females make the smallest eggs of the genus. Since dwarf males rely on egg yolk as the energy reserve for fueling sperm production, tiny egg yolks might mean too few sperm for males to be successful as dwarfs. Feeding on the bones like a female could have allowed for greater sperm production.

From two deep sea species named in 2004 to almost two dozen today found in nearly every ocean, from the depths to the shallows, Osedax are proving to be rather cosmopolitan members of the ocean community. No doubt these sexual extremist scavengers will continue to break the bounds as more of them are described. Stay tuned.

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The nematode (roundworm) Enterobius vermicularis is widely known as the human pinworm due to the female&rsquos long, pointed tail. In some areas the common names &ldquoseatworm&rdquo and &ldquothreadworm&rdquo are used (the latter of which is sometimes also used to refer to Strongyloides stercoralis). Another putative pinworm species, Enterobius gregorii, has been described and reported from humans in Europe, Africa, and Asia. However, further morphologic and molecular evidence suggests E. gregorii likely represents an immature form of E. vermicularis. The rat pinworm, Syphacia obvelata, has also very rarely been reported infecting humans.

Life Cycle

Gravid adult female Enterobius vermicularis deposit eggs on perianal folds . Infection occurs via self-inoculation (transferring eggs to the mouth with hands that have scratched the perianal area) or through exposure to eggs in the environment (e.g. contaminated surfaces, clothes, bed linens, etc.) . Following ingestion of infective eggs, the larvae hatch in the small intestine and the adults establish themselves in the colon, usually in the cecum . The time interval from ingestion of infective eggs to oviposition by the adult females is about one month. At full maturity adult females measure 8 to 13 mm, and adult males 2 to 5 mm the adult life span is about two months. Gravid females migrate nocturnally outside the anus and oviposit while crawling on the skin of the perianal area . The larvae contained inside the eggs develop (the eggs become infective) in 4 to 6 hours under optimal conditions .

Rarely, eggs may become airborne and be inhaled and swallowed. Retroinfection, or the migration of newly hatched larvae from the anal skin back into the rectum, may occur but the frequency with which this happens is unknown.


Oxyurid nematodes (pinworms) generally exhibit high host specificity. Humans are considered the only host for E. vermicularis, although occasional infections have been reported in captive chimpanzees.

Geographic Distribution

E. vermicularis occurs worldwide, with infections occurring most frequently in school- or preschool-children and in crowded conditions.

Clinical Presentation

Enterobiasis is frequently asymptomatic. The most typical symptom is perianal pruritus, especially at night, which may lead to excoriations and bacterial superinfection. Occasionally, invasion of the female genital tract with vulvovaginitis and pelvic or peritoneal granulomas can occur. Other symptoms include, teeth grinding, enuresia, insomnia, anorexia, irritability, and abdominal pain, which can mimic appendicitis. E. vermicularis larvae are often found within the appendix on appendectomy, but the role of this nematode in appendicitis remains controversial. Very rare instances of eosinophilic colitis associated with E. vermicularis larvae have been reported.


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