Parasite of Infinite Grotesquery – Science on the Web #63

(insects chirping) – That’s some hideous, viral footage of a hairlike parasite emerging from the body
of a praying mantis. – Mmm, what’s happening here? Let’s get some deets. – [Man] Just watching this
long, black, tentacle-like creature emerge from its far shorter host calls to mind the horrors of The Strain, Slither, and of course, Alien. – [Woman] But of course,
as monstrous as it seems, we’re actually observing
a real-world organism with a real-world parasitic agenda. – [Man] What we see here
is a parasitoid worm from the phylum Nematomorpha. They’re also known as horse hair worms because these threadlike
roundworms do resemble the hair of a horse’s tail or mane. – [Woman] And it squirms
around, it takes up residence inside a cricket, mantis, beetle, or other host organism. – [Man] You may have observed
these creatures before, either emerging from a squashed host or living free in a puddle or stream. – [Woman] See the adults are free living, but the larvae are parasitic and grow to adulthood in
the body of an insect. And here’s how it goes down. – [Man] Horse hair worms
make their home in damp soil and fresh water. It’s here that the male and females mate, and it’s here that the
female lays millions of eggs. These eggs hatch and
the tiny larvae encyst on vegetation near the water’s edge. – [Woman] Then when it
happens, while a cricket or some other suitable host drops by and eats that encysted larvae or in the case of the carnivorous mantis, it acquires the parasite by devouring an already infected intermediate host such as a mosquito larva. – [Man] Once inside its final host, the cyst covering dissolves
inside the insect’s gut allowing the juvenile worm to escape, bore through the gut wall, and then start absorbing
the host’s nutrients. – [Women] And then our horse
hair worm grows and grows ’til it’s time to burst free. Oh, sure. It’ll abandon ship if the host dies, but what it needs is
fresh water or damp soil. – [Man] And so here we see a bit of parasitic hijacking in action. That’s one hypothesis, anyway. That the worm instills a
crazed thirst in the host so that it seeks out water. An alternate hypothesis
states that the worm simply waits ’til the host
finds water on its own, and then bursts forth. – [Woman] According to a 2001 paper from German journal Zoologischer Anzeiger, the thirst hypothesis is
supported by observations of suicidal behavior by infected
mantises in southern France who seemingly jump into the river and give birth to the
worm that consumed them. – [Man] But hey, at least this
ends the mantis’s suffering. Usually there’s just one
ghastly black worm inside of it eating it from the inside out. Sometimes however, it’s twins. So what about you? Have you ever seen a
horse hair worm in action? The first time I saw one it was in a junior high band room and it was wriggling out of
the body of a dead cricket. – [Woman] True story. What about you? Let us know in the comments below and to keep the videos coming,
make sure to subscribe.

100 Replies to “Parasite of Infinite Grotesquery – Science on the Web #63”

  1. If need be, roast bugs and cover in chocolate. By the way I'm eating as I watch this. Yum. Ants tried to eat my cake, I ate them with the cake. (Beastmode)

  2. Am I the only one who doesn't have a problem with these videos? I mean yeah sucks to be that insect but…that's it. No need to fill sick or something… o_o

  3. eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..eww..

  4. so what happens to the worm after it exits the body? does it attack other insects ? it dies ? can it get inside a human bodie?

  5. how tf did I get to this side of YouTube I have a fear of bugs a phobia has nightmares an wakes up at 3:00 am

  6. what about when you have 30 of those horse hair worms coming out of 1 giant mantis

    i had a pet mantis and all of a sudden he didn't act all that normal

    he looked slightly bigger then usual then when he crawled to the water pool i have in his cage those things came out

    there were so many

  7. just found it today, as I'm going to step and I saw this little monster (almost step it), right after that I try to get rid of it. I found no death insect around… just freak me out…

  8. I found one when I was dissecting a prey-mantis I had all the gear and then stab I opens it there it was dead

  9. I was in the juvenile camp light place and I Crush cricket in this long brown worm came up I start asking people what the hell is that and they said probably is babies in my head I'm like nah that thing look like it was living in it

  10. these are like something from an alien horror film… I'm scared something like this could evolve and quickly become part of us, they're disgusting

  11. I found a dead Praying Mantis on my back porch this morning. Then I saw this black string wiggling around a few feet away – I've never seen a Horsehair Worm before. I put it in a plastic jar – now what do I do with it?


  13. I feel sorry for people who have reptiles like me I was feeding my beaded Dragon and found one I was like what on earth is that

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