Athletics and Recreation

These Hairworms Eat a Cricket Alive and Control Its Mind | Deep Look

These Hairworms Eat a Cricket Alive and Control Its Mind | Deep Look


The day starts normally enough. You give
your pet some food and water. But later … … in your pet’s water dish, you find this. A hairworm. It didn’t get here on its own. It came out of a little cricket. Don’t believe me? OK. These hairworms are gnarly parasites. They actually control a cricket’s mind to get to their home: the water. The hairworm’s journey starts innocently enough, in a river, as an egg … one of many in this long string. The eggs grow into squiggly larvae, which get eaten by a mayfly larva that also lives in the river. And inside the mayfly is exactly where the hairworm needs to be. The hairworm uses this pointy part to
burrow into the mayfly’s flesh. Then it curls up and waits. Because, really, it’s not after a mayfly. It’s after a cricket. So it sits tight, while the mayfly larva turns into an adult and heads to dry land … where it just might get eaten by a cricket … that has no idea what it’s in for. Inside the cricket the hairworm goes at it, eating all the cricket’s stored-up fat, for about a month. The cricket loses its chirp, but
the hairworm doesn’t kill the cricket … … because the worm needs a lift back to
the water. Crickets usually avoid bodies of water.
They’re not great swimmers. So the worm takes over, boosting chemicals in the cricket’s brain, which make the cricket walk around mindlessly until it happens
to reach water. Scientists in France watched this infected cricket make a beeline for the pool. The hairworm makes a break for it. Still going. Ugh, that’s just … ugh. But don’t worry. They don’t target humans. Ready for more? This one at the University of New Mexico … … has a whole lot of hairworms inside it. They don’t waste any time, curling around each other to mate … even before they’re fully outside the cricket. But it’s more than a gruesome spectacle of nature. Learning about these hairworms could help scientists … understand parasites like toxoplasma … that make us very sick. As for the crickets, don’t feel bad. If they don’t drown, most of them survive their ordeal. At least that’s what scientists have seen in the lab. They go back to being crickets and hopefully stay on dry land. Hi, it’s Lauren. Who’s hungry for more after that? We’d love to make more videos of amazing critters up close all year round. But we need your help. We’re a member-supported PBS show from KQED, in San Francisco. That means to grow, we need you, our YouTube fans, to support us on Patreon. Are you in? Link is in the description. Thanks.


Reader Comments

  1. Hi Deep Peeps! I produced this episode of Deep Look. To find out more details about the strange relationship between the hairworm and cricket, you can read the article I wrote: https://www.kqed.org/science/1937775/these-hairworms-eat-a-cricket-alive-and-control-its-mind Thanks for watching, and consider supporting us on Patreon so we can go film some episodes in Oaxaca, Mexico. -Gabriela

  2. drinks water
    Ahhh so refreshing.
    goes to bathtub with water filled in
    Wait-WHY IS THERE A CRICKET!
    hol..d up…WAT DA HECK IS DAT!
    MOOOOOOOOOM
    MOMMY HELP MEEEEE THE SQUIGGLY HAIR IS DAT!
    looks at hair
    O-O
    SHAVE MY HAIR BEFORE THEY EAT MEEÈEEEEE WAAAHHHH
    mom
    -.-

  3. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final boarding call for Amtrak train 30 to Nopeville. Final boarding call for Nopeville.

  4. Hostess: "But don't worry, they don't target HOOMANS"

    Me: Ya sure bout that? Coz I watched a Korean movie bout these worms parasites that actually controlled da HOOMANS bdndnsnsjss

    P/s: The movie is called "Deranged" fyi tho,😂

  5. Huh. So all the particles we thought are immaterial things we step on outdoors might possibly be alive 😲 amazing information on hairworms! Never even considered worms to actually use their brains unless for physiological needs. I mean well…it is physiological but how can the worm know where the nearby water isl

  6. I no longer enjoy the sound of the cricket I have been hearing every evening from my basement. I will now have atrocious nightmares , thanks

  7. oh g o d
    edit: oH MY GOD I FEEL SO ITCHY EVERYWHERE THIS FNSMXJXK
    edit 2: 2:57 JOLLY CHRIST THATS-
    edit 3: WHY IS IT SO L O N G ITS DISGUSTING I-

  8. Me: sees hairworm
    Hairworm: climbs
    Me: so your going to get me hair
    Hairworm: gives hair to me
    Me: thx
    Me: puts hair on my arm
    hairs of hairworns: puts some grems
    Me: oh man i dont feel so good OOOOOOOOOOOOF
    Me: dies

  9. Hey deep look, can you do a video on the brine? I saw it on a video and a lot of fish are dying from toxic shock but pls do a vid!!!!!

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