How Bloodworms Make Their Copper Teeth: Truth Revealed

Did you know that bloodworms have copper teeth? Yes, you read that right. This article talks about how bloodworms make their copper teeth. 

If you are into fishing or having aquatic pets, you must be familiar with bloodworms. These tiny worms are a source of protein for the fish present in your aquarium.

Adding to that, they are excellent fishing baits. But do you know that these worms, who appear to be harmless, have a set of razor-sharp metal teeth that contains a high amount of copper?

What Do Bloodworms Eat

Yes, you read it right! Bloodworms have extremely sharp metallic fangs that they use to kill and hunt prey. It is because of these jaws that they can deliver extremely painful bites.

How did they develop such sharp jaws with an insanely high amount of copper in them?

While it is taken a while for science to catch up, we now have the answer. This article will discuss how the bloodworms created their razor-sharp copper teeth.

What Are Bloodworms?

Bloodworms are the larvae of the common midge flies. These worms live in shallow marine waters and other freshwater sources.

Bloodworms can show a spectacular growth of around 14 inches in length and four sharp jaws attached to their proboscis. They use these fangs to inject venom into their prey.

These marine worms are widely popular as fish food and fishing bait. Due to these qualities, the worms are farmed on the Northeast coast of the United States.

What Do Bloodworms Eat

How Do Bloodworms Hunt?

As we mentioned earlier, bloodworms have the perfect tools for hunting their prey.

Their sharp fangs contain around 10% copper, which is one of the highest concentrations of copper in the animal kingdom.

But how do they use these jaws for hunting? Let us take a look.

Since they reside in shallow marine waters, they usually hunt by digging inside the sand and attacking almost any prey that they can swallow.

You will be intrigued to know that when the worms are closer to the prey, they strike by inverting their digestive system.

They bring out the copper teeth and ambush prey. Once there is contact, they clamp the jaws into the prey’s body and inject deadly toxins present in the venom.

The venom paralyzes the victim, who is later eaten alive.

How Bloodworms Make Their Copper Teeth

How Do They Develop Copper Jaws?

Bloodworms can be considered disagreeable worms as they have a terrible temper and are provoked quickly.

If you threaten these worms, they will start fighting back using the copper jaws. But how did they develop these copper jaws? Let us take a look.

Bloodworms harvest the copper from the metal deposits present on the seafloor.

Once they locate and gather the copper deposits, they use a chemical reaction to fuse these deposits to their fangs.

Although this chemical process was previously unknown, recently, the entire process was documented.

According to the observations made, the process begins when these worms produce an essential amino acid derivative known as dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA).

How To Keep Blood Worms Alive

This helps them to gather the copper deposits in the sea bed. The gathered copper is then turned into a protein-rich liquid.

Later the DOPA is converted into melanin by using copper as a catalyst. This melanin is merged with copper to get the four sharp bloodworm metal teeth.

Scientists such as Herbert Waite and his team at the University of Santa Barbara, California, are conducting studies on whether this process can be adopted by humans to create composite materials without using complex reactions in hi-tech labs.

Are Bloodworms Dangerous?

We stated earlier that these worms have a terrible temper and are laced with a series of lethal weapons. If you try to approach these worms recklessly, they will bite you.

The bites are highly painful and are almost similar to a wasp or bee sting.

The venom present in the bites is also capable of triggering an allergic reaction in the human body.

Therefore, extra precautions must be taken to ensure your safety while dealing with these worms.

How To Keep Blood Worms Alive

It is advisable to wear copper gloves while feeding live worms to your fish to minimize the risk of getting bitten.

Also, if the bites start an allergic reaction in the body, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately.

To avoid these attacks, you can feed frozen bloodworms to your fish; they are easily available and have almost similar nutritional value.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are blood worms’ teeth made of?

Bloodworms have four sharp teeth connected to the proboscis.
These teeth are extremely strong and are made up of a different composition of materials like protein, melanin, and a huge quantity of copper.
They use these teeth to fight off enemies and to hunt prey. Using these fangs, they inject the deadly venom into the body of the hunt to paralyze them.

Do bloodworms have fangs?

Yes, bloodworms have four fangs that are attached to the proboscis.
These fangs are extremely strong and sharp as it is made of a strong composite material containing a high amount of copper.
They use these fangs to bite and kill their prey and will not hesitate to bite humans if they feel threatened. The bites can be extremely painful.
Therefore one should be careful while handling these worms.

What are sandworm fangs made of?

Sandworms have strong, piercing fangs that are extremely strong. These can be extremely useful for tearing, grasping, and piercing prey.
The jaws are high in protein content and have minor mineralization. The stiffness of a sandworm fang is almost equal to that of the human dentin.

How do bloodworms bite?

Bloodworms hunt and bite by going near the prey, and once they are at a striking distance, they attack by inverting their digestive system.
This brings out the sharp copper fangs, which clamp into the victim’s body to inject its deadly venom. The venom paralyzes the victim, who is later eaten alive.

Wrap Up

The construction of the copper jaws in bloodworms used to be a complicated process to understand, but with recent studies, scientists have understood the complete mechanism.

The process of building copper jaws by bloodworms can be adopted by humans to create composite materials as well.

We hope the article helped you understand this mechanism as well. Thank you for taking the time to read the piece.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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