Hammerhead flatworms are not your ordinary backyard garden worm. These slithering, slimy flatworms have a hammerhead sharklike head (that’s why the identify) and are identified to destroy their victims by emitting a neurotoxin to stun them and an enzyme to liquefy them so they can be eaten.
Ok, we’ll permit you capture your breath now.
“These worms are incredibly prolonged, and if they’re present in your backyard or yard, you are not likely to skip a person,” says Katelyn Kesheimer, an entomologist with Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension Procedure. “Similar to other worms, they are more energetic pursuing a rain function, so you may well see them crawling all over following a downpour.”
While hammerhead flatworms are not unsafe to humans, they can induce a disturbance in your yard, so here’s what you want to know if you come across any of these creepy-crawly pests.
What are hammerhead flatworms?
Hammerhead flatworms appear from areas of Asia and Madagascar but are now in the U.S. by means of the transport of exotic plants.
They are a sort of land planarians that can variety in duration from 10 to 15 inches. Distantly similar to earthworms, they are slimy and flat in profile with a 50 %-moon or crescent-formed head. They’re usually light-weight brown or honey in colour with dark traces running down their backs.
How hammerhead flatworms impact your yard
Worms, in typical, are typically not dangerous to individuals. Even so, these hammerhead flatworms do have a toxin that can result in pores and skin discomfort, so you must constantly put on gloves when digging in your garden, in particular following it rains. You really should also preserve canines and other animals absent from your backyard garden in the event that a hammerhead flatworm is current.
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Given that hammerhead flatworms appreciate to prey on slugs, earthworms, and snails, they can threaten the indigenous ecosystem of your garden. Earthworms are essential for the perfectly-staying of your garden since they support loosen compacted soil and convert organic issue into vitamins and minerals for vegetation.
“Earthworms assist contribute to soil overall health, so we do not want something taking away those people from our lawns or gardens,” says Kesheimer.
Signals of an infestation
Even though hammerhead flatworms may well be existing in your yard and yard, there are no clear indicators of an infestation exterior of viewing a specimen. So preserve your eyes peeled and normally put on gloves when functioning in your backyard.
Generally, this sort of worm likes very hot, humid environments and is energetic at all occasions of the calendar year when the temperature is just ideal.
How to get rid of hammerhead flatworms
It can be alarming to see a hammerhead flatworm slithering in your property, and your very first inclination could be to smash it with a backyard device. But bear in intellect that they reproduce asexually.
“Do not reduce them up! Fragments can regenerate into new worms,” states Sydney Crawley, assistant professor of urban and structural entomology at North Carolina Condition University. “Instead, location them in saltwater, alcoholic beverages, soapy drinking water, or an additional abrasive option. You can also bag and freeze them.”
Crawley says you need to not spray a solution—like saltwater—on the hammerhead flatworm in the garden or backyard garden due to the fact the solution will also get rid of earthworms. Rather, you really should raise the flatworm out of the garden to destroy it.
“Use a stick or other device to elevate the hammerhead worm into a Ziploc bag where you can comprise and implement the saltwater to get rid of it,” says Jonathan Larson, entomologist and assistant professor in the extension software at the University of Kentucky. “Spritzing them with vinegar or citrus oil will also get the job done.”