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Rain brings out creepy but harmless long worms in Cape Coral

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 08:12:26-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla -- Many online are asking about a long, thin, worm species after thousands of them were found in a Cape Coral driveway. 

Jenn Maxwell, and her mother, Barbara, recorded a video of thousands of thin, long, spaghetti-like worms, squirming in standing water on their Cape Coral driveway, Saturday. The family said it is normal to see worms when their driveway floods, but they have never seen worms quite like this. "I would describe it as thousands of worms stuck in water, and they were long and thin," said Jenn. "We didn't step on them or touch them because we didn't know what they were."

Jenn posted the video on Facebook to ask others. The thread exploded with comments from others, also curious about what the species were. 4 In Your Corner asked entomologist and biology professor at FGCU, Dr. Joyce Fassbender, who solved the mystery. "Well, it's a little difficult to tell from the video, but from what I can tell, it's likely horsehair worms," she said. 

Horsehair worms are aquatic worms that live in damp soil, puddles, or other bodies of fresh water. They are commonly seen after rain. They may look off-putting to some, but Dr. Fassbender said they are harmless to humans and pets, and they are actually good for the environment. "They themselves are actually a food source for other organisms in the soil," she said. "But in addition to that, they're parasitic in insects, so they destroy insects that can damage crops, like grasshoppers. Or ones that might invade your homes, like roaches."

Dr. Fassbender said if you see horsehair worms invading your area, you can simply wash them away with your hose. Leaving them out to dry may kill them and cause a bad smell. 

Many comments on Jenn's Facebook post urged her to kill the worms. However, she believes every creature has a purpose. "I'm not going to go and kill something that I don't know what it is, just because I don't know what it is. I'm a firm believer in understanding what's in your environment and what you're around."