Elwood 5566

'All Things Bright and Beautiful' – Yeon-Ka-Shi (연가시) Parasitic Worms

Posted in Animals by 노강호 on October 27, 2010

Yesterday, as I was teaching, I felt some water fall onto my arm from the ceiling.  For a moment I looked at it bewildered, unsure where it had come from and looking up deduced it was condensation falling from the vent of the air-conditioner.  One of my students muttered some comment, the class laughing in response. I had no idea what he said but recognised one word; a word that immediately invokes  revulsion: ‘yeon-ka-shi!’

If you ask Koreans, especially kids about the yeon-ka-shi (연가시), you are likely to be treated to a catalogue of horror stories. The yeon-ka-shi is a parasitic, ‘horsehair’ worm (nematomorpha) that spends part of its life in water where it finds its way into a host. Though some will tell you otherwise, the hosts are insects and not humans though there have been rare cases of human ‘infection.’ One recorded case  involved a young girl who vomited up a dead worm. Her mother then took her to hospital where both her and the worm were examined. Now, how true this is I don’t know but I read the article, in fact a medical report, somewhere online and subsequently lost the link. However, the conclusion was that the girl must have drunk contaminated water, ie from a pond or puddle and the worm, killed by stomach acid  was subsequently expelled in vomit – not a surprise as a gutful of puddle water is hardly comforting.

 

Link to video of worm (photo; Wiki)

I have been treated to numerous gross accounts of the yeon-ka-shi infecting humans, or how it turns insects into zombies which are subsequently driven to suicide. Other stories relate to the worms crawling out of the backside of insects and I have been warned not to stamp on the camel-cricket (곱등이) as this is a frequent host. The truth? Well, it does invade insects and it does crawl out of backsides and out of the abdomens of squashed hosts. There are plenty of gruesome videos recording this example of  God’s sickening handiwork.

The size of these parasites in relation to their hosts is alarming. The next video apparently portrays a cricket committing suicide.  How observers deduce it is suicide I don’t know. I’d have thought with this massive invasion rummaging around in its body, the cricket was  totally out of its mind.

The natural world inspires both awe and horror but given the number and nature of horrific phenomena, it is truly testament to mankind’s stupidity that we should even dream of erecting and idolozing a creator capable of such perverse manifestations.  One of a host of creations excluded from that  naive polemic, All Things Bright and Beautiful.

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© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Camel Cricket – 곱등이- Rhaphidophoridae

Posted in Animals, seasons by 노강호 on October 27, 2010

The rather ugly camel-cricket (곱등이)

Okay! Here’s a really ugly insect you might see seeking sanctuary as the weather gets colder. The camel cricket (곱등이) is a rather prehistoric looking insect related to the New Zealand weta. They are often found in caves and dark damp places and in some cases never see daylight but also reside in forests and buildings, especially basements.  They are nocturnal and unlike other crickets (뀌뚜라미), do not chirp.  They are characterised by long legs and antennae. Cave dwelling species, living in continual darkness have been known to eat their own limbs if food is scarce. Apart from their ugliness, they are harmless though their defence mechanism is to jump towards a threat rather than away from it.

Probably one of the last insects you will see before winter

The Korean camel-cricket has a somewhat bad reputation as it is associated with the parasitic worm Koreans call the yeon-ka-shi  (연가시).

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© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.