Have you ever heard of the superstition "Don't Pee on the Worm"?

One of the most baffling superstitions I've ever heard while living in Japan came from my mother-in-law. One day we were walking on a trail with my kindergarten-aged son when we looked down to see there was an earthworm crossing our path. We stopped, but before I could find a stick to nudge him out of the way, my mother-in-law screamed, grabbed my son, and yelled, "Don't pee on it!".

I didn't know where to start. I think I started by explaining that her grandson doesn't usually make a habit out of dropping trou and piddling on every bug he happens to come across. But, also, was the looming question, why? I mean aside from the fact it's not a cool thing to do to such a tiny creature. Why? So I asked. She went on to lecture me about how little boys like peeing on worms (It's what she said, really.) and how if they do, their little boy parts will swell up and start itching terribly. It's an awful thing, she told me.

Oookay. Keep in mind, this was pre-Internet, so there was no way for me to whip out (heh) my phone and check. I decided it was probably a silly old wives' tale made to keep rambunctious little boys from doing mischievous things. I even heard it a couple times after that fateful day, from different people. But still there was no insight into why this idea even started in the first place. Then one day, many years later, I was watching a Japanese TV show doing a bit about superstitions and this one came up. Read the rest

Artist didn't realize his painting was inspired by a parasitic worm in his eye

Ben Taylor, a 47-year-old artist, was inspired to paint a trippy, colorful circle filled with abstract worm-like patterns. He never finished the work. Years later, Taylor identified the subconscious inspiration for the painting: a 1" African parasitic worm called a Loa loa that he didn't know had taken up residence in his eye but had caused years of illness. Now his painting is on the cover of the medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (PDF). From the Washington Post:

“I suppose there was almost a sense of relief . . . just because I realized I wasn’t going mad,” Taylor said of his diagnosis...

While recovering, Taylor began painting again, and while rummaging in his home studio, he came across... the unfinished work he had shelved earlier...

He grabbed his paints and brush and began to finish it. He drew the lashes and the sclera, or the white part of the eye. He painted over the middle, so that the intricate wormlike patterns look like spiraling galaxies disappearing into the dark pupil. He added the worms — long, white and nearly transparent images slithering from the eyelids. “Untitled” became “The Host.”

"His health had been failing for years. Then he saw something crawling in his eye" (Washington Post) Read the rest

Great video of a wriggling worm found in fish at a New Jersey restaurant

Worms in fish are not so uncommon. But rarely do we actually see them, especially alive, on a dinner plate, at a restaurant. That's what makes this video so fascinating. It's well-shot and captures a live wriggling worm on someone's plate of codfish.

As a side note, after the customer posted the video on Facebook, the restaurant who served the pink appetizer, Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant, was none too pleased, and a social media feud between customer and restaurant ensued. You can read about it here if you're interested. Read the rest

Frozen earthworm revived after 42,000 years in the permafrost

Siberian roundworms frozen for millennia were thawed and are happily going about their business again, reports The Siberian Times.

One worm came from an ancient squirrel burrow in a permafrost wall of the Duvanny Yar outcrop in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River - close to the site of Pleistocene Park which is seeking to recreate the Arctic habitat of the extinct woolly mammoth, according to the scientific article published in Doklady Biological Sciences this week.

This is around 32,000 years old.

Another was found in permafrost near Alazeya River in 2015, and is around 41,700 years old.

The oldest living animals on the planet, and excellent candidates for a high-concept horror B-movie. Read the rest

Mysterious moving lump on woman's face turned out to be a worm

Over five days, a 32-year-old woman in Russia took selfies to document a strange lump on her face that moved from under her left eye to above it and then later to her lip. She finally visited a physician who reported a "superficial moving oblong nodule at the left upper eyelid." Turns out, she had a particular kind of parasitic worm, Dirofilaria repens, living under her skin. From Live Science:

Humans are "accidental" hosts — in other words, not where the worms want to end up — and once a worm gets into a human, it typically can't reproduce.

The worms are spread by mosquito bites, and human cases have been reported in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, the 2011 report said. The Russian woman said she had recently traveled to a rural area outside Moscow and was frequently bitten by mosquitoes, according to the new report (in the New England Journal of Medicine)...

The Russian woman had the worm removed and made a full recovery, the report said.

Read the rest

Sandworms are real

In this video, a dead fish is used to tease a Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) into revealing its vicious skill as an ambush predator. Fortunately, it's all happening underwater, far away from me. Read the rest

How to make Worm Tea

Over at Popular Science, Jim Shaw, proprietor of Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, posted his recipe for Worm Tea, an organic liquid fertilizer and insecticide. The key ingredient is three pounds of castings, also known as worm shit. Shaw writes:

Collect 2 to 3 pounds of castings (or buy them from us). Next, pack them in a porous cloth, such as a burlap bag or even a pillowcase, to make a jumbo tea bag. Then dunk the bag in 2 to 3 gallons of lukewarm water, and soak it overnight. Finally, squeeze the bag; you just brewed your own worm tea.

Spray the Worm Tea on the plants or pour it at the stem. For best results, don't drink it.

"How to brew worm tea" (Popular Science) Read the rest

Parawormal activity

This video, posted by "Ghost Worm," shows a mysterious myriapod suddenly leaping onto a countertop late at night. The spooky infra-red footage gives the whole thing a "paranormal activity"-esque atmosphere, but I'm quite certain someone just set up the camera and threw the worm in front of it. [via] Read the rest

Giant worms roam Australia

Stilgar: Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen. Paul: Streuth!

Say hi to Digaster longmani , an enormous earthworm reported on by 7 News Queensland in Australia. Adds Fox News:

Robert Raven, Head of Terrestrial Biodiversity at the Queensland Museum, told the news site the earthworm in Mace’s photo could measure up to three feet long once it relaxes and stretches out.

“In the 1970s, I was walking through Lamington National Park and could hear them beneath me as they gurgled through some water,” Raven recalled. “Seeing them is a sign we are getting good rain.”

Read the rest

A new IoT botnet called Reaper could be far more virulent than Mirai

In 2016, an Internet of Things worm called Mirai tore through the internet, building botnets of millions of badly designed CCTVs, PVRs, routers and other gadgets, sending unstoppable floods of traffic that took down major internet services from Paypal to Reddit to Dyn. Read the rest

Treasure trove of deep-sea specimens includes dongs of the deep

Australia's Sampling the Abyss project went 2.5 miles underwater 62 miles off the east coast of the continent, netting a treasure trove of delightful creatures, including a peanut worm that in Rob Zugaro's photo looks a lot like a... Read the rest

A year later, no action from Chinese company whose insecure PVRs threaten all internet users

It's been more than a year since RSA's Rotem Kerner published his research on the insecurities in a PVR that was "white labeled" by TVT, a Chinese company and sold under over 70 brand-names around the world. In the intervening year, tens of thousands of these devices have been hijacked into botnets used by criminals in denial of service attacks, and TVT is still MIA, having done nothing to repair them. Read the rest

The Mirai worm is gnawing its way through the Internet of Things and will not stop

The Mirai worm made its way into information security lore in September, when it was identified as the source of the punishing flood of junk traffic launched against Brian Krebs in retaliation for his investigative reporting about a couple of petty Israeli criminals; subsequent analysis showed Mirai to be amateurish and clumsy, and despite this, it went on to infect devices all over the world, gaining virulence as it hybridized with other Internet of Things worms, endangering entire countries, growing by leaps and bounds, helped along by negligent engineering practices at major companies like Sony. Read the rest

Not just crapgadgets: Sony's enterprise CCTV can be easily hacked by IoT worms like Mirai

The unprecedented denial-of-service attacks powered by the Mirai Internet of Things worm have harnessed crappy, no-name CCTVs, PVRs, and routers to launch unstoppable floods of internet noise, but it's not just faceless Chinese businesses that crank out containerloads of vulnerable, defective-by-design gear -- it's also name brands like Sony. Read the rest

Two hackers are selling DDoS attacks from 400,000 IoT devices infected with the Mirai worm

The Mirai worm -- first seen attacking security journalist Brian Krebs with 620gbps floods, then taking down Level 3, Dyn and other hardened, well-provisioned internet giants, then spreading to every developed nation on Earth (and being used to take down some of those less-developed nations) despite being revealed as clumsy and amateurish (a situation remedied shortly after by hybridizing it with another IoT worm) -- is now bigger than ever, and you can rent time on it to punish journalists, knock countries offline, or take down chunks of the core internet. Read the rest

Man regrets stamping on cricket

I think we can pass on GIFfing this one. You'll thank me, just as you will curse your curiosity. Read the rest

Proof-of-concept firmware worm targets Apple computers

It's like Bad USB, with extra Thunderbolt badness: Web-based attacks can insert undetectable malicious software into a Mac's UEFI/BIOS, which spreads to other machines by infecting Thunderbolt and USB devices. Read the rest

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