Gordian Worms, Horse-hair Worms
Compiler and date details
October 2011 - ABRS, with thanks to Dr A. Schmidt-Rhaesa for assistance with references
Although Schmidt-Rhaesa (2002) notes that seven Nematomorph species are recorded for Australia, but he lists eight species. Two further species were described by Schmidt-Rhaesa and Bryant (2004), bringing the total to ten.
These curious parasitic worms, known as 'Horsehair Worms' or 'Gordian Worms' are parasites of arthropods, including spiders, beetles and mantids (Schmidt-Rhaesa 2001) and vertebrates such as fishes and frogs. The life cycle of species that parasitise praying mantids is described by Schmidt-Rhaesa (2001). The Australian Museum website has an interesting account of these worms.
Schmidt-Rhaesa, A. 2002. Australian species of Chordodes (Nematomorpha) with the description of two new species, remarks on the genus and its life history. Journal of Natural History 36: 1569-1588
Schmidt-Rhaesa, A. & Ehrmann, R. 2001. Horsehair worms (Nematomorpha) as parasites of praying mantids with a discussion of their life cycle. Zoologischer Anzeiger 240: 167–179