Common name: anchor worm
Synonyms and Other Names: Lernaea elegans Leigh-Sharpe 1925
Lernaea carassii Tidd 1933
Lernaea ranae Stunkard and Cable 1913
Lernaeocera esocina Hermann 1783
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: Long, thin cylindrical shape with two pairs of hook-like appendages at one end.
Size: 6-11 mm (Haley and Winn 1959)
Native Range: Possibly Eurasia (McLaughlin et al. 2005).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Lernaea cyprinacea are found here.
Table last updated 9/27/2023
† Populations may not be currently present.
* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).
Ecology: Immatures are found on the gills while mature females are found on the outside surface of fishes where they are known to burrow into the tissue (USGS 2012).
Means of Introduction: Likely introduced through the aquarium trade (Tidd 1934).
Impact of Introduction: A minimum of 79 different native and exotic host fish species have been documented in North America (USGS 2012) many of which are found in the southeast.
References: (click for full references)
Haley, A. J., and H. E. Winn. 1959. Observations of a lernaean parasite of freshwater fishes. Trans. Am. Microsc. Soc. 88:128-129.
McAllister, C.T., C.R. Bursey, and S.D. Martin. 2011. Lernaea cyprinacea (Crustacea: Copepoda: Lernaeidae) anchorworms from two larval aquatic insects (Ephemeroptera: Baetidae, Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) in northeastern Oklahoma. Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci 91:37-40.
McLaughlin, P. L. and 39 others. 2005. Common and Scientific Names of Aquatic Invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Crustaceans. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 31, Bethesda, Maryland.
Nepszy, S. J. 1988. Parasites of fishes in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. Great Lakes Fish. Comm. Tech. Rep. No. 51. 106 pp.
Tidd, W. M. 1934. Recent infestations of goldfish and carp by the ‘’anchor parasite,’‘ Lernaea carassii. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 64:176-180.
Timmons, T. J., and W. G. Hemstreet. 1980. Prevalence rate of Lernaea cyprinacea L. (Copepoda: Lernaeidae) on young-of-the-year largemouth bass, (Micropterus salmoides (Lacepede), in West Point Reservoir, Alabama-Georgia, U. S. A. J. Fish Diseases 3:529-530.
USGS. 2012. Free-living and parasitic copepods (including Branchiurans) of the Laurentian Great Lakes: keys and details on individual species. http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/greatlakescopepods/_DialUp/Detail.asp?GROUP=Parasite&SPECIES=Lernaea%20cyprinacea Accessed 5/13/2012
Tirmizi, H. 2003. "Lernaea cyprinacea
" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 14, 2012 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lernaea_cyprinacea.html
Steckler, N., and R.P.E. Yanoung. 2012. Lernaea (Anchorworm) Infestations in Fish. University of Florida IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL.
Revision Date: 4/3/2015
Benson, A.J., 2023, Lernaea cyprinacea Linnaeus, 1758: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2875, Revision Date: 4/3/2015, Access Date: 9/27/2023
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.