Did you find a hair-like thing in your bathtub and ran screaming out of there? Don’t worry; we will show you how to get rid of hair like worms easily and why you shouldn’t be bothered about them as much.
Hairlike worms, also known as horsehair worms, are usually found in watery areas, such as rain puddles, ponds, sinks, and bathtubs.
Even though they are harmless to humans, animals, and plants, they can still infest your home or garden.
So, getting rid of them from your surroundings is essential, and in this article, we talk about how to do it.
What Are Horse Hair Worms?
Horsehair worms, also known as Gordian worms, are as thin as a horse’s hair, and that is the reason behind their strange name.
They have dark brown, yellow, or black bodies stretched up to 3.2 feet (one meter) or more. However, they are only 1/25th to 1/16th inch wide.
Also known as Cabbagehair or Gordiid, these worms are usually spotted in a loose, curled-up shape and can often be found in ponds,and swimming pools near homes.
You can also see them swimming in your sinks, bathtubs, and toilets.
These thread-like creatures are parasitic but do not worry; you aren’t their target. They usually live inside insects like beetles, cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, and other arthropods.
Are They Dangerous?
Hairlike worms are internal parasites that can only survive inside insects like grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, centipedes, etc.
Thus, they are dangerous to arthropods and other pests because they cramp their body walls before moving on to a new host.
The only way to stop them from reaching the next insect is to kill them, or else they will have it their way!
Do They Bite/Sting?
Horsehair worms are harmless to humans, pets, livestock, and animals and only parasites to insects, such as cockroaches, centipedes, beetles, millipedes, grasshoppers, etc.
For what it’s worth, they benefit humans since they help clear the pests away from homes and gardens.
Do They Have Venom?
These worms are entirely harmless to people, plants, and animals.
They are also quite an uncommon occurrence in your bathtub or sink. So, no, they are not poisonous and, thus, not harmful to you.
However, they are parasitic to a small population of insects. The females lay a string of eggs in the freshwater, which insects eat up unknowingly.
The larvae develop and mature inside the body, and when it comes out of the body wall, it kills the host.
Can They Spread Diseases?
It is uncommon for a creature as thin as a horsehair worm to spread diseases in humans, plants, or animals.
The best they can do is cause discomfort in the human intestinal tract before the acids dissolve them.
However, you must keep the sink, bathtub, toilet, and pet dishes clean with regular rinsing to keep the worm infestation at bay.
Are They Harmful to Humans or Pets?
As discussed above, horsehair worms are too thin or small to harm humans, pets, or plants.
A study explained that if humans swallow horsehair worms, they may suffer from mild intestinal discomfort though it is not dangerous.
There is also no study or case study to prove that horsehair worms cause infection in humans, plants, or animals.
An article published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information talked about six people in Japan who ingested horsehair worms through a host.
There was no sign of infection, but a few complained about mild discomfort in their stomach. Some also vomited because the worm got stuck in their throat.
How To Get Rid of It?
Horsehair worms are more of a help and less of a nuisance to human beings. However, they may infest your place often, so getting rid of them and keeping your home clean is necessary.
If you are wondering how to get rid of them, check the following pointers.
Rinse them away with water
If you find any species of horsehair worm on the floor, rinse them away with a bucket of water. If you find them in the toilet, remember to flush them thoroughly. If they are wiggling in your sink, turn the tap on and let them ride to the sink pipe.
Don’t let the hosts enter your home
If insects like centipedes, beetles, or cockroaches often infest your home, seal the entry areas, use an insecticide, and if you are killing it, immediately take it out before the juvenile worm comes out.
Install mesh filters
You can also use a mesh filter or screens to keep the worms at bay, especially those who can enter homes or gardens through water pumped out of farm ponds or canals.
Ensure you are using filters when using the water for the domestic water system in your area. You can seek help from the local health department for the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are horsehair worms in my house?
Horsehair worms may enter houses through their host. We already know that these parasitic worms lay their eggs in water.
The potential hosts drink this water and unknowingly let the larvae develop in their body cavities. The larvae feed internally on the host and, once developed, get out of it by crushing the body.
What is the treatment for horsehair worms in humans?
The simplest way to get rid of horsehair worms is to routinely rinse the bathroom and places where water accumulates, like a bathtub, toilet, sink, and rain puddles in the garden.
For infections, any mild stomach drug will work, and you might not even need that.
What causes horsehair worms?
Adult horsehair worms lay millions of eggs in water which the arthropods in the water eat up, thus becoming host to the larvae, which come out when matured, crushing the insect’s body.
How long do horsehair worms live?
Once the larvae are out of the host’s body, they continue to live for about 3 to 4 months, after which the typical life cycle of the horsehair worms re-starts.
Can horsehair worms hurt humans?
Horsehair worms are not the parasites of humans and, thus, do not harm them or animals. However, you must ensure that your home is free from horsehair worm infestation to keep the environment clean.
The best thing about getting rid of hairlike worms is that you can easily remove them from your house.
Just rinse the infested area with water, and usually, you will be free from the worms; if you have more to add to this article, comment below!
Horsehair worms can be quite scary because they can hide in places where you least expect them, such as your potty and in your bathtub. Many of our readers who were unaware of the bug have sent us pictures and requests to help them out.
We are sharing some of these emails below, so that you can also be prepared if you see this bug in your home.
Letter 1 – Unknown White Threadlike Worm may be immature Horsehair Worm
Very small thin long white worm found in garden. Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 1:57 PM I was gardening and found this very thin and small in diameter, long, almost string like. Looked like a piece of sewing thread. I was digging up dirt and happen to see it and it began moving. Wondering what this is and if its harmful to me or my pets. Paizly Contreras Woodland, Ca, United States Hi Paizly, We didn’t think this hairlike or threadlike worm would be that difficult to identify, but the exact identification is proving quite elusive for us. We believe this is a Nematode Worm of some type, but we are not certain. We feel confident that one of our readers will be able to properly identify your White Worm. Hi Paizly Free living soil nematodes are usually very small, typically less than 1 mm in length. This could be a displaced parasitic nematode, but I am inclined to think it may be a juvenile nematomorph (a.k.a. Gordian worm or horsehair worm). As juveniles, nematomorphs are parasites of insects and other arthropods. When mature, they exit their host when the host is in or near water, and they then complete their life cycle as free-living, non-feeding aquatic adults. I have seen several instances, and it is probably not unusual, where one has prematurely left a host that has died (e.g., squished on a sidewalk). If this is a nematomorph, perhaps its host died; maybe you got it with a garden implement. They are fascinating creatures and definitely harmless to humans. There are some pictures very similar to yours at: http://www.matthewbolek.com/Nematomorphs%20for%20web%20page/Nematomorphaindex.html KK
Letter 2 – Gordian Worm
Segmeted pencil-lead sized 12″ long Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:05 AM I have seen these at my house at least four times in the past eleven years. They have been on the driveway or walkway after a rain. I kept the first one in moist dirt in a baggy but it died. The distal end is bifurcated with grippers. The proximal end is smooth and probing. Laurie N 35.50162694, W120.69228172 Hi Laurie, Thanks for the detailed coordinates, but we haven’t a GPS device to get a named location. Seems like we are probably talking San Luis Obispo, California. This is a Horsehair Worm or Gordian Worm. It is an internal parasite that preys upon Potato Bugs and other Orthopterans. We have also received reports in conjunction with Camel Crickets and Spiders.
Letter 3 – Request for specimens of Horsehair Worms
Worms wanted July 23, 2009 [email protected] http://www.nematomorpha.net Hi. I am studying hairworms, Gordian worms, or nematomorphs at the University of New Mexico. Several other biologists and I have started a study of the biodiversity and distribution of these critters in the New World. I noticed that some of your readers have noted Gordian worms, and I would very much appreciate if you would spread the word that we would love for people to collect and send us these worms. As you know, not much is known about this animal phylum, and we would like to change that with your help. Thanks for your time, consideration, and great website! Cheers…Ben Ben Hanelt Hi Ben, Normally, we do not print email addresses, but in this case, we suspect you would like our readership to contact you directly. Daniel: Thanks for your quick reply, and thanks again for your awesome website. I think your site probably saves us biologists a lot of time identifying strange creatures- fantastic! If you would put up a post of my e-mail or even just my website address, that would be great. I will also work on linking to your site from ours, as I think it will be very useful for people who end up at our site. Thanks again, and feel free to pick my brain anytime you get a posting that leaves you puzzled (I get those once in a while, and I am still not sure about some: is it animal, plant, or alien?). Cheers…Ben
Letter 4 – Stinging Hairs from the Woods of North Carolina
Subject: Biting ghost Location: NC January 26, 2016 9:10 pm We have been being stung by what looks like hair. Even our dogs have red spots on them. They are also getting a lot of ear problems. I find a lot of what looks like leaf litter on the floors and it always has hair with it. The last picture I had to get it off my dogs eye one morning. I almost looked like some kind of slug with a soft shell. I wonder if something is using the leaf as a hiding place. Signature: Lost in the woods Dear Lost in the woods, Much like your previous submission, we cannot recognize any life form in your images. This looks like debris picked up from the floor. We cannot help you but you may benefit from the network of sufferers who share parasite information in our comment section. For the record, we do not endorse any methods described in comments.
Letter 5 – Woman Plagued by “Fuzz Ball with Eyes” AKA Dust Bunny
Subject: fuzz ball with eyes Location: new mexico August 23, 2016 4:30 am Hello, I have been plagued with the critters for several years and I would like to know what they are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMR-AN_GneI&index=5&list=PLZyqnm4XHew6-SwAZlrTYda7Y3ZLp2tRq Signature: janice bisset Dear Janice, There is not much detail in your image, which has a focus problem, so we cannot be certain, but we believe this is a Dust Bunny. According to the Huffington Post: “Deep cleaning your home can be emotional. There are feelings, and then there’s procrastination and somewhere, before you reach the finish line (or your wit’s end), there are questions. Like, what are those wads of dust that have made a home of their own underneath your sofa?” The Huffington Post also provides this information: “Dust bunnies are made of many things… …Including dead skin, hair, particles of fiber, paper and feathers, and lint from textiles. Dust bunnies are held together with static electricity. And in homes with many pets or lots of people with shedding hair, they can get large as they collect under furniture such as beds and sofas. They can be harmful to those with allergy or respiratory issues. According the Wilson, the danger lies in dust bunnies’ ability to harbor dust mites which can trigger an asthmatic or allergic reaction. To ward off these potential allergy triggers, Wilson recommends moving your furniture once or twice a year as though you are moving out and cleaning underneath to ensure that the surfaces do not build up debris. As an extra measure of cleanliness, use a HEPA filtered vacuum so the dust does not blow back into the room, she says.” The youtube link you provided is to a private video. https://youtu.be/Slczo3Q-Gxk thank you for your response—I made the video public and I will keep it that way for a few days. if you get a chance to watch it, notice the two antenna (?) and the way one of the ?appendages moves. see the two eyes? Ed. Note: The only movement we can perceive in the video is the entire “Fuzz Ball with Eyes” being moved by tweezers. We do admit that some insects, including the Masked Hunter and certain Lacewing Larvae use debris as camouflage, but this does not appear to be either of those. ok, thank you. Hi daniel, here is another pic of the same type of “fuzz bug” after I put it alcohol. These things are very bad for my breathing so if I see them I try to make them stop mutiplying Hi again Jessica, Thank you for providing another image, but we still can’t make any specific identification. There does appear to be something visible, but we are not sure what. You might want to do some research on Dust Mites.
Letter 6 – Hairlike Insects or Hair: You Decide
Subject: hair like insect Geographic location of the bug: maui Date: 09/19/2021 Time: 12:39 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: My mom swears these are insects that she keeps finding in her house. She apparently is having an ant and mite problem, but I have no idea what these images are. Are they insects? The pest control guy told her to scotch tape the insects, so that is one of the photos. Thanks! How you want your letter signed: Megan Dear Megan, We do not believe these are hairlike insects. We believe that is hair. Okay, thank you!