14 January 2013

Roundworm emerges from a dying spider - Updated (twice)


Succinctly described by the YouTuber as follows: "ok so i was just editing my latest montage and this huge spider came out, so i sprayed it and killed it, then this fricken alien worm came out of it!!!  haha thanks for watching! - baskwith"

It apparently is a parasitic roundworm.  I didn't know they infested creatures as small as spiders.  And I'm amazed that the spider could apparently function with so much of its body mass filled with the nematode (nematomorph - see Taupo's link in the Comments).

You learn something every day.

Addendum:  I've borrowed two videos from reader Taupo's blog.  The first shows a parasitized terrestrial insect (a cricket) seeking out water (a swimming pool) and jumping in.  After he's in the water, the parasite - a "Gordian worm" (Paragordius tricuspidatus) emerges, and the dead/dying host is left behind:



The second video depicts similar events, but includes a narration (French in the original, here overdubbed in English, perhaps by a third party?) -



It's absolutely fascinating that some parasites have evolved to modify the behavior of their hosts to their own advantage.  I remember seeing similar adaptations in parasites of ants and caterpillars, and I believe it is suspected with some parasites of humans, such as toxo.

Second Addendum:  Reader DubyaD found a definitive explanation for the original spider video at Insect House:
These may be the first photos of a Horsehair or Gordian worm erupting from inside a Huntsman spider. The photos were taken by our good friend Andrew this week in Cairns, Australia.   The Huntsman was spotted inside Andrew’s house with an unusually enlarged abdomen.  It got sprayed with pesticide (no – we don’t condone that kind of activity here at insecthouse.co.uk!) and within seconds of it dying, this Horsehair worm emerged.  In the circumstances, the pesticide was probably an act of mercy, but still – tut tut.


Horsehair worms are long, slender wormlike animals and can be between 5-200cm long!  They’re not worms, and nor are they nematodes, despite their scientific name of Nematomorpha (which means “nematode shaped”)... Horsehair worms are pretty tough customers – they can survive even if their host gets eaten.  Our unfortunate huntsman may have eaten an infected cricket or beetle and so become infected itself
Further details about both creatures at Insect House.

*Reader AF suggests that the arthropod parasites could also be Mermithidae:
Mermithidae is a family of nematode worms that are endoparasites in arthropods. As early as 1877, Mermithidae was listed as one of nine subdivisions of the Nematoidea. Mermithidae are confusable with the horsehair worms of the phylum Nematomorpha that have a similar life history and appearance.

27 comments:

  1. It's not exactly a nematode: it's a nematomorpha. They're related and can hijack their host nervous system for them to seek water ponds on where to drown! Go here for more videos http://goo.gl/Iqmrt

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    1. Excellent, Taupo. I've inserted a quick correction, and will amend the post after the weekend when I have time to peruse your link more thoroughly.

      Thank you for helping improve the blog!

      stan

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    2. You have a very interesting blog, btw...

      :.)

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    3. Thanks!It's all in french though... Hope you can delve into it with google translate. I regularly point to your own blog which is amazing!

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  2. Other comments on the video call it a "mermithid" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mermithidae), which is apparently fairly similar to a nematomorpha.

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  3. Hmmm. We don't actually see it emerging nor afterward where it emerged from.

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    1. See the videos at Taupo's blog (above).

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  4. How the hell was there room in that spider for that worm!?

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  5. Why did you decide to to kill the spider anyway ?
    Do you kill everything you do not like ?

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    1. Stan didn't make the video. Ask the youtuber who uploaded it.

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  6. Ditto Wm. Rocket's comment. What's with this obsession with killing spiders? Unless it was a black widow or brown recluse or something dangerous, why not leave it alone instead of drowning the poor thing in a pool of poison. (Which he then probably tracked inside his house, poisoning his own environment.) Spiders are beneficial, people. If nothing else, they eat mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. Save the Spiders!

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    1. Perhaps to avoid having a spider like this expire in my bed and letting loose this demon next to me while I am sleeping???

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  7. I have to say that, moral questions aside, killing a nonvenomous spider is pretty stupid. They do no harm and they catch and eat annoying bugs.

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    1. Yep, no need to pay attention to the spider with a severely distended abdomen acting weird next to you.

      And most people aren't real experts on which spiders are poisonous or not. I for one, do not kill spiders in my home, sometimes I feed them. But you can't always judge other people's actions so quickly.

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    2. I agree, spiders should be allowed to live and kill disease causing insects. However, all spiders are venomous. Maybe not able to damage us, they they all have fangs that contain some sort of venom. And Rose, they are venomous not poisonous. Poisonous is when you eat something and that makes you sick--spiders, wasps, scorpions ect. are have venom though I wouldn't want to eat any of them to see if they sicken me like a poisonous mushroom would

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  8. Here is some logical perspective on this incident:

    http://www.insecthouse.co.uk/news/horsehair-worm-huntsman-spider/

    The spider probably ate an infected insect, but these things can survive being eaten!

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  9. Thank you to everyone. I've spent the morning revising and updating the post. This has been a real learning experience for me.

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  10. The sci-fi possibilities here are so scary. If you couple this, with that zombie fungus thing that can take over ants and crickets....yikes.

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    1. What about the toxoplasmosis virus/bacillus/whatever it is? Its preferred host is a cat, so It makes rats and mice that are infected with it act in such a way as to attract the attention of cats, thus increasing the likelihood of the rodent being eaten.

      Or the nasty parasite that resides in the soil and infects ants. Its preferred host is sheep, so it acts on the ants' neural system to force them to climb to the tips of blades of grass (which they normally avoid) where they're more likely to be eaten by grazing sheep. Yikes!

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  11. Am I the only one wishing the title and images were slightly hidden from view?
    Ew ew ew! I'm going to have slimy parasites in my thoughts for weeks.

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    1. I for one am thankful. I was just about to tear into these Doublestuff Oreos... instead, I may never eat again. When my willpower fails me, I have a new solution. eeeeeeeewwww

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  12. I was thinking about T. gondii when I watched the French video. There is a fascinating connection between T. gondii and schizophrenia in humans (note: toxoplasmosis is not necessarily a cause of schizophrenia).

    http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/9/11/03-0143_article.htm

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  13. Hi we live in longford tasmania we allso have a full video on the worm comming out of a dieing black house spider i noticed the spider walking accross our living room picked it up with the dustpan and noticed it was acting weird then suddenly the spider just stoped moving and this worm like thing split the spiders bum in two then crawled out this happend only 3 months or so ago as grew up in tassy but hav traveled all over australia living in most parts walking bushland etc i had never seen such a thing befor my eyes they say u can eat up too 12 spiders in ones lifetime while sleeping as they drink from the corners of your mouth and never knowing to u eating one of these things and unwraping itself in our insides our childrens etc for within years to come this thing growing inturnaly how many other familys are affected within there houses as we all would have to be stupid not to think its not happing in yours sum this all up what the hell happends when all of us are affected as its growing in time in all of us lol fucking funtown then isent it to late ya dead. O i know dont worry it will only do the same to u what it did to the spider. Its ok the doctor and the hosiptal and the will say ull be right and on ya ways u will go.... So who nows up for worming tablets who ever wonts the video footage via email xpsunit@gmail.com ill send it to u

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    1. A parasite of an arthropod (spider etc) would not necessarily be dangerous to a human. And especially if you swallowed it, it would probably be dead within a couple minutes after encountering the acid in your stomach.

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  14. It is 0400 here, and this clip really woke me up xD
    Your blog is indeed very interesting and incredibly refreshing. No vulgarity that I can see and very educational. I learned something new. This is great. Awesome job :)

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    1. Thanks. Vulgarity does sometimes appear, but I monitor every comment - even on old posts - and zap anything that has YouTube-style crassness and inanity. The regular readers here are well informed and the comments for the most part are informative. Welcome aboard.

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