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.

100 thoughts on “These Hairworms Eat a Cricket Alive and Control Its Mind | Deep Look

  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: Thanks for watching, and consider supporting us on Patreon so we can go film some episodes in Oaxaca, Mexico. -Gabriela

  2. Imagine the worm somehow evolved then control our brains, and walk us straight into a pool.

    I wonder how these worms get out of us tho . _ .

  3. Me: watch this video check up on turtle sees a hairworm takes turtle out 911: what's your emergency me: give me all nuclear weapons

  4. Me:See's a hairworm in my bathtub


    Also me:Fbi do you want to add a extra nuke fire power to that?

  5. Wait hold up.
    The crickets can live?

    So, theoretically they could become infected multiple times?

    I'm imagining the worlds most unluckiest cricket that's been infected like 5 times.

  6. i just cant help but ask, why does the hair worm live in the water then leave the water then go back again to the water through controlling crickets..haha.. why cant they just stay at the water..well.

  7. Hey guys in shine this we don't have any food or drinks and we eat bugs so would you eat the cricket or a mantis to survive cause million year ago us humans had to hunt for our food and kill pigs and cows in the forest so cricket. Or mantis

  8. Hairworm: "hello can i get a hitch?"
    Cricket: "Sure, where to?"
    Hairworm: "just to the pool over there"
    Cricket: "ok then, Hop in!"

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