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Horsehair worm, Paragordius varius (Nematomorpha: Gordiida): new to the fauna of Oklahoma.

Juvenile horsehair or gordiid worms (Nematomorpha) are parasites of terrestrial arthropods (often crickets and beetles) and, as adults, are free-living in freshwater sites including lakes, streams, and rivers. Until recently (see Hanelt et al., 2005), compared to other phyla of animals, gordiids have received relatively little attention. One species, Paragordius varius (Leidy), was the first of the phylum to be laboratory-reared and is probably the most common and widespread gordiid species in the New World. It is distributed throughout 24 states (plus the District of Columbia) of the contiguous United States and three provinces of Canada and also has been reported from Hawaii and throughout South America (Schmidt-Rhaesa et al., 2003; Poinar and Chandler, 2004). However, in Oklahoma, the only species of horsehair worms previously reported from the state is Gordius robustus Leidy (Stillwater, Payne County; Montgomery, 1907). Herein, we document the first specimens of P. varius from Oklahoma.

During summer 2011, collection of freshwater horsehair worms was attempted at 10 sites, including Eagle Fork Creek, Glover River, Lukfata Creek, Mud Creek, Mountain Fork River, Salt Creek, Steven's Creek, Yanubbee Creek, Yashau Creek, and White Oak Creek in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. These sites ranged from intermittent lowland creeks to deeper upland rivers supporting a wide variety of aquatic fauna. When collected, horsehair worms were placed in vials containing 70% ethanol and sent to one author (BH) for identification. Voucher specimens were deposited in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History collection as USNM 1156922 and the University of New Mexico Museum of Southwestern Biology as MSB 200-204.

Nine specimens of free-living adult horsehair worms were collected and identified as Paragordius varius (Leidy, 1851). A single female worm (223-mm long) was collected on 13 July 2011 from US 70/US 259 bypass at Salt Creek (33.881023[degrees]N, 94.826974[degrees]W). Eight other females (217238 mm) were collected 25-26 July 2011 from Mud Creek, 3.4 km W of the junction of US 70 and US 259 in Idabel (33.920240[degrees]N, 94.811581[degrees]W).

The P. varius reported herein represent a new state record for Oklahoma. A summary of previously known records of P. varius was provided by Schmidt-Rhaesa et al. (2003). The species has been reported from Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin and Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada (Schmidt-Rhaesa et al., 2003). There are gordiids reported from surveys on macroinvertebrates in Arkansas but identified only to genus as Paragordius (Huggins and Harp, 1983; Cochran and Harp, 1990; Chordas et al., 1996).

Although other species of horsehair worms have been reported from several of the states within the Mississippi River watershed (Schmidt-Rhaesa et al., 2003; Harp et al., 2008),P.varius has not been reported from Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, or Minnesota. We suggest that this apparent distributional void be further examined in an effort to attempt to document this species from those states.

CTM thanks the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for scientific collecting permit No. 4958 and K. D. Harrison and B. King for providing research space to him. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, DEB0949951 to MGB and DEB-0950066 to BH.


CHORDAS, S., III, G. L. HARP, AND G. W. WOLFE. 1996. The aquatic macroinvertebrates of the White River National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 50:42-51.

COCHRAN, B. G., AND G. L. HARP. 1990. The aquatic macroinvertebrates of the St. Francis sunken lands in northeast Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 44:23-27.

HANELT, B., F. THOMAS, AND A. SCHMIDT-RHAESA. 2005. Biology of the phylum Nematomorpha. Advances in Parasitology 59:243-305.

HARP, G., P. HARP, AND S. MCCORD. 2008. Aquatic macroinvertebrates collected from thirty-two Missouri Ozark streams. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 62:61-74.

HUGGINS, J. A., AND G. L. HARP. 1983. Aquatic macroinvertebrates of the Hiatt Prairie region, Franklin County, Arkansas. Proceedings of the Arkansas Academy of Science 37:92-94.

MONTGOMERY, T. H. 1907. The description of the North American Gordiacea, with description of a new species. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 59:270-272.

POINAR, G., JR., AND C. M. CHANDLER. 2004. Synopsis and identification of North American hairworms (Gordioidea: Nematomorpha). Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 79:1-7.

SCHMIDT-RHAESA, A., B. HANELT, AND W. K. REEVES. 2003. Redescription and compilation of Nearctic freshwater Nematomorpha (Gordiida), with the description of two new species. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 153:77-117.

Submitted 25 January 2012. Accepted 30 April 2013. Associate Editor was Jerry L. Cook.

Chris T. McAllister,* Matthew G. Bolek, and Ben Hanelt

Science and Mathematics Division, Eastern Oklahoma State College, Idabel, OK 74745 (CTM) Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078 (MGB) Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131(BH)

* Correspondent:
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Author:McAllister, Chris T.; Bolek, Matthew G.; Hanelt, Ben
Publication:Southwestern Naturalist
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U7OK
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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