Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where there's water, there's worms.

Notice the circular depression in the base of the hoop-stand.

The kids were in the backyard playing slam-dunk. They came running back in: "Daddy! There's worms in the basketball hoop!"

Worms in the hoop-stand. (And nearby, bird poop.)

Well, sure enough, there were worms. Wriggling orangey-yellow ones, and immobile, apparently deceased, white ones. What the heck were they, and how did they get there? I thought I knew the answer, in a vague sort of way. I thought they were nematodes that had been pooped there by a bird perching on the hoop.

But the more I looked at them, the less they looked like nematodes, and the more they looked like oligochaetes. They're pretty big for nematodes, and they don't have that ice-shard pointedness at the ends. Plus they wriggled very skilfully, to the point of corkscrewing one half of their body along the length of the second half, which I don't believe nematodes possess the musculature to pull off. So I guessed they might be oligochaetes (the very large group of worms that includes earthworms)--there are hints of segmentation; I didn't put them under a scope-- but I couldn't figure out how oligochaetes would have ended up in a basketball hoop-stand. I doubted that birds would poop oligochaete eggs, because my understanding was that oligochaetes hatch from cocoons in the soil, or in pond muck. Oh, where's a vermologist when you need one?

There's a couple of ovate blobs between one and two o'clock. Could those be eggs/cocoons?

This has me stumped, nowhere near a slam-dunk. What are they, and how did they get there?


Kim and Victoria said...

That is odd. I hope someone who knows lets you know.

Becca's Dirt said...

What a strange thing. I know absolutely nothing about worms except they are good for fishing and good for the soil. Interesting...

Dreamybee said...

Every once in a while I find a full-size earthworm in my dogs' water bowl. ?? It's not like the water doesn't get changed out every day or anything, so I'm not sure how they get there, but they do.