Rev: 07/11/2022

Gullet Worms, Crop Worms Classification Biology and Ecology
Morphology and Anatomy Life Cycle
Return to Gongylonema Menu Ecosystem Functions and Services
Distribution Management
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  •             Gongylonema Molin, 1857
  • As of 2021, the only genus of the family Gongylonematidae.

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    Morphology and Anatomy:

    About 50 species described between 1819 and 2016, mainly as parasites of birds and mammals.  Humans are considered accidental hosts for the genus but some cases of infection have been reported.

    The genus is characterized by numerous cuticular bosses in the anterior region, a gubernaculum, and markedly unequal spicules (Chabaud, 2009)

    Considerable ssimilarity inc morphological and morphometric characters that have likely produced a large number of synonymies.  Some of the characters considered most reliable are  cuticularized structures, such as spicules, gubernaculum and eggs, since they do not suffer major variations in size in adults. However, when comparing the species morphometrically, based on data obtained in the original descriptions, a great deal of overlap is noted. Hence, iaddaitional characters are necessary, such  as shape of the caudal alae, presence or absence of lateral alae, and number of pairs of caudal papillae (Costa Cordeiro et al.., 2018).







    Body size range for the species of this genus in the database - Click:
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    Species of the genus are detected throughout the world (Costa Cordeiro et al, 2018).

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    Parasites of Birds, mammals, insects.

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    Biology and Ecology:


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    Life Cycle:

    Intestinal parasites of birds and mammals, including humans, although humans considered accidental hosts.  Often found in the buccal region and referred to as gullet worms.. Also in, often in the crop of domestic fowl and referred to as crop worms..

    Insects, especially dung beetles, are intermediate hosts. Since dung beetle species are in close contact with animal and human feces, they may also act as hosts for a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria and/or viruses, as well as eukaryotic parasites such as platyhelminthes and nematode  belonging to the genera Gongylonema, Spirocerca, Ascarops, Acanthocephalus, Macracanthorynchus, or Physocephalus (Poinar, 1975). The parasites use dung beetles as intermediate, incidental, or paratenic hosts (Nichols and Gomez, 2014).

    Like other spirurid nematodes, Gongylonema spp. the insect intermediate host ingests ingest the eggs and juveniles become encysted in the eggs. When the insect host is ingested by an appropriate definitive host, thethe juveniles emerge from the eggs and migrate to the esophagus or buccal cavity.

    For Ecophysiological Parameters for this genus, click 
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    Ecosystem Functions and Services:

    Damage to Hosts

    Often found in the buccal region and referred to as gullet worms.. Also often in the crop of domestic fowl and referred to as crop worms..

    Humans may become infected by accidental ingestion of infected insects. Various species of dung beetle and cockroaches have been demonstrated to be suitable insect hosts. It has been suggested that most human infections result from ingestion of cockroaches.

    In humans, the worms tend to localize in the buccal cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, and palate. In a high percentage of these cases, the sensation of a moving worm is reported by the patient. In some cases, the worms are removed by the patients themselves, using their fingers. In others, the worms have been removed by inserting a needle under the worm. Symptoms in humans, other than the sensation of something moving, may include local irritation, pharyngitis and stomatitis, and bloody oozing patches in the mouth (Eberhard and Busillo, 1999). Most human infestions appear to be by Gongylonema pulchrum.



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    Bravo-Barrigo, D., Martin-Perez, M., Lobo, J.M., Parreira, R., Perez-Martin, J.E., Frontera, E. 2021. First detection of Gongylonema species in Geotrupes mutator in Europe. J. Nematology 53: | DOI: 10.21307/jofnem-2021-050

    Chabaud, A. G. 2009. Spirurida. In Keys to the nematode parasites of vertebrates: Archival volume, R. C. Anderson, A. G. Chabaud, and S. Willmott (eds.). CAB International, Tucson, Arizona, p. 361-377.

    Costa Cordeiro, H., F.T. de Vasconcelos Melo, E. Guerreiro Giese and J. Nascimento dos Santos. 2018. Golygonema parasites of rodents : a key to species and new data on G. neoplasticum. J. Parasitol. 104:51-59.

    Eberhard, M.L. and Busillo, C. 1999. Human Gongylonema infection in a resident of New York City. .Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 61:51–52.

    Kinsella, J.M., MR Robles, WC. Preisser. 2016.  A review of Gongylonema spp.(Nematoda: Gongylonematidae) in North American rodents with description of a new species from the cotton rat, Sigmodon hispidus (Mammalia: Cricetidae). Zootaxa, 4107: 277-284.

    Nichols, E. and Gomez, A. 2014. Dung beetles and fecal helminth transmission: Patterns, mechanisms and questions. Parasitology 141:614-623.

    Poinar, G. O. 1975. Entomogenous nematodes: A manual and host list of insect-nematode associations. Leiden: Brill Archive.






    Copyright © 1999 by Howard Ferris.
    Revised: July 11, 2022.