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Tongue Worms: Pentastomida

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Tongue Worm (linguatula Serrata): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, TONGUE WORMS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

TONGUE WORM (Linguatula serrata): SPECIES ACCOUNT

Tongue worms are found on all continents, but most species are found in the warmer tropics and subtropics.


Adult tongue worms live in respiratory systems of vertebrates (birds, reptiles, and mammals). The larvae (LAR-vee) of tongue worms develop in the tissues and organs of hosts different from those of the adults. Larval hosts include arthropods, birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Both the adults and the larvae of tongue worms are internal parasites. Internal parasites spend most their lives inside other animals, where they eat their tissues and fluids. Most species feed on blood, but tongue worms eat the tissues and linings inside the nose and its sinuses (SIGH-nes-ehs). Sinuses are openings, or channels, inside the head that are connected to the nose.


Five species of tongue worms are known to infect people. In four of these, people are only an accidental intermediate host. Human infection with these species is usually the result of eating uncooked snake meat. However, both the larvae and adults of Linguatula serrata can infect humans.


No species of tongue worms are considered threatened or endangered.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related Species