General Question

Coloma's avatar

How did little red worms get into my hot tub?

Asked by Coloma (47095points) April 17th, 2012

I’m pretty nature savvy but this baffles me. I drained my hot tub the day before yesterday and when I went to clean and refill it this afternoon there were two small red earthworm like worms swimming around in the few gallons of old water below the drain line. They were completely submerged but wriggling around alive.
How did worms manage to scale the exterior and get under the cover? Do earthworms climb and migrate towards water?

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21 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are you absolutely sure that they were earthworms? They sound like some type of larvae to me.

janbb's avatar


Coloma's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer They were little red worms. About 1.5 inches long, like minature earthworms. all I can think of is they might have come from the tree frogs that hang out under the spa cover. Maybe a frog parasite?

Coloma's avatar

They were not there when I drained it and how could they live in chlorinated water?

BBawlight's avatar

They may be blood worms. They live in clean water that is clear, not muddy or full of other debris. They also do not live in moving water, like streams and rivers. The eggs are laid by adult flies in areas that are likely to support the young.

Coloma's avatar

@BBawlight Damn…you know everything! lol So they might be the larvae of a flying insect? How interesting!

Trillian's avatar

Eeeewwwww! You reckon they might be some sort of…(gulps) parasite?

Coloma's avatar

I looked up pictures of bloodworms but these didn’t seem to have the segmented bodies or prongy little feelers. Well..the mysterious world of worms. haha

BBawlight's avatar

@Coloma give us some more details. Was the bottom of the hot tub muddy?

Coloma's avatar

@BBawlight No. Just a few gallons of clear water that needed to be bailed out. The worms were not in distress, they obviously are a species that lives IN water as they were distressed when I skimmed them out and tossed ‘em into the weeds. lol I also wonder if they somehow came through the drain, but the holes are so tiny I don’t think so. Also I get granite sediment in the tub due to the water coming from a deep solid granite well. Could they have come through the hose which has no filter on it?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Is it too late to take a digital photo of them and provide a picture?

BBawlight's avatar

They could… kinda like how spiders crawl up the drain from a septic tank at my house. My younger brother has books on these types of things. You can look in the library for information too, assuming you have one.

Coloma's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Yes, they are gone now, skimmed over the edge. lol
@BBawlight I’ve been looking online for info. Oh well, just one of those interesting nature anomolies, the worms crawl in the worms crawl out….:-)

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Tropical_Willie's avatar

Where has you neighbor bring storing his fishing worms?

possible they came through the plumbing if there is no filter.

Jenniehowell's avatar

I agree with others who the most logical answer seems to be that it would be the larvae of some sort of flying insect or another

Plucky's avatar

As @BBawlight suggested, I think they are a type of blood worm/bloodworm (insect larvae or true worms). They most likely got in through the unfiltered hose and/or via the surface of your water.

Here’s some extra information if you’re interested:

Blood worms (Chironomidae), which are midge fly larvae, are different than bloodworms (Glyceridae from the Polychaete class) which are true worms – they bite and are even painful to humans. Blood worms are good swimmers; bloodworms are good burrowers. By your description it is hard to tell which one. Here is a good link of a bloodworm, did they look like that but smaller? Or more like these blood worms? Or were they much deeper red?

If you don’t want those friends back, I’d cover the hot tub with a tight cover that doesn’t allow standing water (you can put a beach ball in the centre of the full hot tub, under the tightened cover to form a tent). Also, make sure to run the tub more often ..keeping it aerated. When cleaning it, get all the water out (like with a wet/dry shop vac). Chlorine alone doesn’t kill them (chlorine hinders the growth of the larvae) – it works best in still water. I believe there are also safe insecticides you can spray. I’d look into getting a hose filter as well.

I hope I didn’t bore you with details.

Coloma's avatar

@Plucky More like the 2nd picture, but they seemed to have a smoother earthworm like body, no discernible segments. I’ve never had the problem before but being spring and leaving the tub sitting for a few days before the final bailing and cleaning must have opened a window of opportunity for some little unseen visitors. The cover fits well and snugly, no gaps, but the tree frogs like to hang out under the flaps on the edges where it is warm and dark. This is why I wondered if the frogs were some sort of carrier for the worms.

I run the tub at least 3–4 times a week and the timer is set for the filter to come on 2x daily, am/pm. It has to have something to do with the sitting water for a few days as normally I keep the tub hot and there is no way anything could live in a hot hot tub. lol Infact, sadly, I have to be really careful when lifting the cover because the little tree frogs will launch into the water and immediately die from the extreme heat. :-(
Very interesting though, that’s gotta be what they are.

Plucky's avatar

Perhaps they really are just young earthworms then. Earthworms (suborder Lumbricina) can climb the same way they move around – by sticking out their setae (little claw-like bristles) and contracting their body. They can live 13 to 96 hours under water (depending on the species and oxygen levels of the water). I’ve seen them on the sides of pails before too.

Or, as this article explains, it could have rained earthworms!

The poor tree frogs!

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