The life cycle and ecology of the horsehair worm Chordodes morgani (Nematomorpha) in Nebraska remain unknown. To identify its definitive host, we installed a series of pitfall traps along 3 first-order streams at 4 sites: Elk Creek, Upper Elk Creek, Maple Creek, and West Oak Creek, all located northwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. In addition, we opportunistically hand-collected insects at these sites, including wood cockroaches (Parcoblatta virginica), and maintained them in the lab until they passed adult worms. Two of these field-collected wood cockroaches each yielded 1 adult worm, which was identified as C. morgani by microscopy, showing that P. virginica serves as a definitive host. Experimental infections of captive-reared Parcoblatta americana supported this result. The wood cockroach was found at all 3 creeks, but C. morgani was not found at West Oak Creek, suggesting that the definitive host does not limit the distribution of C. morgani. Physical properties of the streams were measured to examine how these properties influenced the distribution of the worm. Flow rate and pH differed between the 3 sites where C. morgani was found and the West Oak Creek site, suggesting an important role for these abiotic factors in the distribution of this horsehair worm species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics