We were reminiscing at the dinner table tonight as guests at my parents house about how my brother and I used to love to play in the pasture in the ditchwater every summer. We spent hours and hours in the mud and muck making pies and squishing our toes around, shooting water pistols and painting ourselves, our dogs and our horses with the mud. All the fun came to a screaming halt the day I found the whipping white worm wriggling in the ditch.

It didn’t matter what it was or where it came from, it was wicked and disgusting and I wanted as far away from it as possible!! I never got in the ditch barefooted again!

Well, it turns out this awful looking thing is actually an intestinal parasite of grasshoppers and crickets. The worm develops and grows in their bowels, and when it gets so bit it senses the crowding, it emits a substance that convinces the grasshopper or cricket to search out water, where the little bug dies and the worm leaves the body and starts it’s next stage of development in the water. That is the long thin pale whipping creature I saw years ago, that has scarred me to this day.

Our dinner conversation then turned to the fact that sometimes cats will eat crickets or grasshoppers, then vomit up the worms from their meals insides. My clients find this very alarming. This was when my mothers face turned green and her hand came up in a “Talk to the palm” gesture. Sheesh! You think she would be used to this kind of conversation by now!

My father smoothly segued into a quick poem by one of his favorite old Cowboy Poets and saved the day. Here is the poem:

(Spelling as published)


By Bruce Kiskaddon

You hear of microbes and of germs

And all them eddicated terms.

They say a feller hadn’t oughter

Go fillin’ up on muddy water.

Fer once them microbes gits inside

They mighty soon have multiplied.

From what they say, I onderstand,

They’re might apt to kill a man.

But then a cowboy doesn’t mind.

He drinks what water he can find.

It may be mud or alkali,

He has to drink it and git by.

Now them there little wigly worms

That sorter swims about and squirms,

I’ve drunk a heap of them you bet,

And none of ‘em has hurt me yet.

Fer drinkin’ water , so to speak,

It hadn’t ort to be too weak.

Yore hoss can drink an awful lot.

His stummick never gits upsot.

And so perhaps a quart or two

Is not a goin’ to damage you.

Jest drink yore fill and go ahead.

The bugs you drunk will soon be dead.

I don’t know. I just prefer to avoid water that has bugs in it .