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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Unknown white worm in substrate?


White worms
White worms  
QUESTION: I'm hoping you can help me here, because I'm frantic. These are in my emperor scorpion's terrarium. The substrate is tropical exo terra plantation soil. Since he was a rainforest species, the humidity was very high with a heat source, and the tank was kept covered up to keep out the sun. Everytime I've seen them, they were swarmed around a piece of dead cricket (his food). I am uncertain whether or not these are parasites from the crickets or something harmless that feeds on organic material and that came with the substrate, which came packaged as a brick.

ANSWER: Hi Caitlin
 I cannot tell to much from the photo but from what I can see and their connection with the soil I am quite sure these are Nematodes. They occur in all soils. Soil nematodes are usually free living while others are intestinal parasites or symbionts.These appear to be scavengers. I doubt if they have any effect on scorpions

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you, and I apologize- yes, it was difficult to get a good picture of them- or even find them in the first place. They seem to disappear until a decaying cricket shows up. I ask this question because I was concerned about my leopard geckos- my scorpion passed away just last night. Since they both shared the same food source I wasn't sure whether or not I should be concerned that my leopard geckos might be infected from the crickets. I've never seen these nematodes anywhere else other than the soil in my scorpion's tank- but I didn't know if this was just because the environment was more hospitable for them. That, and I didn't know if the nematode eggs would even be able to survive the dry packaging conditions of the soil.

Nematodes are just about everywhere. There are over 15,000 species. They occur in marine and fresh water and soil. They occur in the intestinal tracts of just about all plants and animals. The pathogenic ones usually infect plants. I cannot look into a drop of pond water under the microscope in my biology classes without seeing them.
That said I cannot say your scorpion died from nematodes or whether your Geckos have them. I feel sure that the sample you showed me were soil nematodes. As a safeguard for your lizards you might try Fendendazole, the wormer for pets. I know it has been used in reptiles.

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Walter Hintz


I can answer any questions about insects and spiders.


I have taught science for over 57 years. I am presently teaching biology at the college level. I have done extensive graduate work in entomology.

Momentum Magazine The Ohio Journal of Science

B.S. In Ed Kent State Unuv M.Sc The Ohio State Univ National Science Foundation Fellowships: Electron Microscopy Univ of California Entomology Kent State Univ

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