Lernaea cyprinacea
Lernaea cyprinacea
(anchor worm)
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Lernaea cyprinacea Linnaeus, 1758

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

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

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).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Widely introduced across the US where water temperatures exceed 15oC (USGS 2012) including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Ohio, Oregon, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia,  Wisconsin (McLaughlin et al. 2005), West Point Reservoir on the Alabama-Georgia border (Timmons and Hemstreet 1980), and in the Great Lakes (Lake Erie and Lake Huron) (Nepszy 1988). Found in northeastern Oklahoma in 2010 (McAllister, 2011).

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).

Status: Unknown

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

Other Resources:
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.

Author: Benson, A. J

Revision Date: 4/3/2015

Citation Information:
Benson, A. J. 2017. Lernaea cyprinacea. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2875 Revision Date: 4/3/2015

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [5/28/2017].

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