No common name

Paragordius varius

ORDER Gordioidea

FAMILY Gordiidae

TAXONOMY

Paragordius varius Leidy, 1851, type locality unknown, although it was likely on the East Coast of the United States.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body ranges from light yellow to nearly black. Body length ranges from 3.9-13.8 in (100-350 mm) with a maximum diameter of 0.03 in (0.7 mm). Male posterior is bifurcating, female posterior trifurcating. Male lacks postcloacal crescent. Only one kind of areoles are present, which are small and flat.

DISTRIBUTION

Found throughout the Americas. They have been reported in North America from Canada and the United States; in Central America, they have been reported from Costa Rica and Guatemala; and in South America from countries including Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina. Within the United States, they have been reported from 26 states, including Hawaii. They have also been reported from Cuba.

HABITAT

Adults are free-living in freshwater environments. This species is often collected in slower streams and has often been encountered in temporary waters such as rain puddles and many places where rainwater collects. Juveniles develop within or-thopteran hosts such as crickets and grasshoppers.

BEHAVIOR

The behavior of this group has not been intensively studied.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Parasitic during larval stage, non-feeding as adult.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

These worms produce several generations annually. Worms most likely overwinter as cysts in aquatic insects. During the spring, aquatic insects, carrying cysts, metamorphose into flying adults. Crickets and grasshoppers are infected when they scavenge dead insects harboring cysts. Development to adult worms takes up to one month. The fast development of this species allows up to three generations to be produced during a single year in temperate climates. The reproductive biology of this group in more tropical regions is unknown.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

As with all gordiids, this species does not infect humans. However, this species is often encountered by humans in the United States. Such findings of adult worms in a pet's water dish, puddles, toilets, hot tubs, or even near childrens' playgrounds result in numerous calls to local health authorities annually. ♦

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