Saturday, October 9, 2010

Horsehair snake

Four boys huddled around a paper cup peering intently on the thread-like object wiggling lazily in the water inside. None had seen anything like it before. While trying to catch water skaters along the bank of the irrigation canal one of the boys had spied the curious object and captured it in the cup. Horsehair snake is an appropriate nickname because it looks so much like a hair from a horse's mane or tail. It is not a snake but a parasitic worm which matures in the abdomen of grasshoppers and crickets. It is completely harmless to humans. The mysterious creature somehow manages to induce the grasshopper to jump in a stream or pool of water where the grasshopper dies and the worm swims out into the water to seek a mate. Legends say a horse hair falling into a watering trough or puddle of water comes to life becoming the horsehair snake. Much mystery still surrounds the life of this interesting creature. It is sometimes referred to by the name Gordian Worm for the habit of curling into a twisted ball resembling the knot that Alexander the Great severed with his sword in frustration with the task of untying it.

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