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5 things to know about the invasive predatory worm found in Pearland

The New Guinea Flatworm (PeerJ.com)

HOUSTON – The Texas Invasive Species Institute confirmed that the New Guinea flatworm has invaded a Pearland family's backyard.

Here are five things to know about the flatworm

1. The New Guinea flatworm is a predator of snails. It uses a white pharynx like a feeding tube and is able to drain snails completely. The flatworms wave been known to climb trees following snail trails of their prey. They are also known to eat earthworms and isopods.

A New Guinea Flatworm preying on a snail.

2. It is nocturnal and has no known predators. The flatworms are believed to be susceptible to citrus oil and white vinegar mixtures that are directly sprayed on them. Salt and slug repellent is another option to get rid of the flatworm.

3. The flatworm has been found in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. The southeastern United States is a great habitat for the flatworm due to the presence of snails.

4. The flatworm has the potential to carry parasites. The New Guinea flatworm is known to be a paratenic host of the rat lungworm. It is not advised to handle the flatworms bare-handed. It's recommended to wear latex gloves, or use a stick or disposable forceps.

5. The flatworm ranges in size from 1.6 to 2.6 inches. Both ends of the flatworm look similar, but the end with its head is narrower and has two eyespots. The underside of the flatworm is a pale tan and the upper side has a faint stripe.

The underside of the New Guinea Flatworm
The head of the New Guinea Flatworm
The body of the New Guinea Flatworm

*Information provided by Texas Invasive Species Institute