Velvet Worms Kill Their Insect Prey In An Interesting Way

Velvet Worms Kill Their Insect Prey In An Interesting Way

There are many creatures within the animal kingdom that kill their prey in brutally creative ways. Velvet worms offer up a great example of such a predator. These worms live among leaf litter, underneath stones and logs. Sometimes velvet worms can even be found dwelling within termite nests. Velvet worms may seem uninteresting at first, but once you learn how they capture and kill their insect and arachnid prey, you will understand why these worms are admired for the inventive manner in which they kill their arthropod prey.

Once the velvet worm catches its prey it will spew a liquid slime that quickly hardens, leaving the insect or spider prey motionless within a shell of tough slime. Of course, the velvet worm does not simply eat its prey after spewing its defensive liquid; instead this worm dissects its prey in order to spew corrosive digestive fluids onto the prey’s innards. Once the innards are satisfactorily liquefied, the velvet worm then sucks the liquefied innards into its mouthparts. This worm’s favorite dishes include crickets, woodlice and a variety of different types of spiders. This horrifying worm can also spew its digestive enzymes in self-defense.

The velvet worm has the ability to shrink itself to proportions that allow it to squeeze through small crevices. This adaptation allows for these worms to locate areas that contain the degree of humidity necessary for their survival. Velvet worms can shrink to these super thin sizes because they do not possess any sort of an exoskeleton.

Velvet worms have a brain and two nerve cords that meet near the worm’s rectum. These two single nerve cords are not ganglionated, which indicates how primitive these worms are. Despite their primitive physiology, velvet worms have survived millions of years of evolution on account of their fierce predatory instincts and methods.

Since velvet worms have been found dwelling within termite nests, do you believe that these worms could pose a threat to termite colonies?