I will be the first to admit that bugs and me, we just don’t get along very well. I am absolutely terrified of their crazy legs, terrifying eyes, and secret behavior. Just talking about bugs brings shivers up my spine, I absolutely despise any form of bugs. When I heard this story though, it haunted me. A man and a woman started recording this preying mantis and what happened afterwards is something you would see in a horror movie, okay, maybe not that far, but either way it is absolutely disgusting.
So, what the heck is this thing?
It is known as a Nematomorpha, also known as a horsehair worm. They can be discovered in damp areas such as watering troughs, swimming pools, streams, puddles, and cisterns. The adult worms are free-living, but the larvae are parasitic on arthropods, such as beetles, cockroaches, mantis, orthopterans, and crustaceans.
Horsehair worms have been found emerging from a cockroach trapped in fossilized amber dated at 15-45 million years ago.
These horsehair worms are born as parasites in a variety of different insects, mainly roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. Once inside of the insects, they grow and penetrate through the gut and into the body cavity of the cricket. Here the worms grow up to adults. This growth period takes from 4-20 weeks. Interestingly enough, the worms can only feed while inside their insect hosts. So, all of the energy the worms need for living in the water, mating, etc., is acquired while inside the insects.
Then once they mature, they separate and live on their own.
As a final act, the worms manipulate the behavior of the insect host, and it commits ‘suicide’ by jumping into water. Once the worms senses the presence of liquid, they start actively exiting the host. A process which can take a few seconds to a few minutes. Thus the insect host dies, but the worm continues to live.
And if you REALLY want to get freaked out, check out this horror of this spider going through it:
I normally don’t like to have any bugs in my house, but if that one showed up? I think I’d be thoroughly freaked out. Beware of these parasites, because not only are they gross to look at, they actually can insert themselves into human bodies as well.