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Parasitic roundworms pose a health risk to humans and pets. Most infections begin when a person or animal comes into contact with roundworm eggs in contaminated soil. If the person doesn't wash properly, the eggs can be introduced into his system, where they hatch and begin to feed.
What Roundworms Eat
Once roundworms make their way into a host, typically settling in the intestines, they produce a chemical that prevents the host from digesting them. They then begin to feed off the intestinal fluid, tissue, blood and mucus.
Plant and Insect Roundworms
People and pets aren't the only ones affected by roundworms -- plants and insects also suffer from infestations. Plant parasitic roundworms live on or inside plants, where they puncture cell walls and feed on the tubers, roots and bulbs. Insect parasitic roundworms inject deadly bacteria into insects. When the insect dies, the roundworm feeds on the bacteria and decaying tissue. Other roundworms feed on living insects.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Roundworms
- Animal Diversity Web: Ascaris Lumbricoides
- University of Maryland Extension: Introduction to Plant-Parasitic Nematode Biology and Management
- Colorado State University Extension: Insect Parasitic Nematodes
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Using Nematodes to Control Insects: Overview and Frequently Asked Questions
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images