Invasive hammerhead flatworms spotted in Texas. Here is what to do if you see one

Here's what to do if you find a hammerhead flatworm in Houston
Here's what to do if you find a hammerhead flatworm in Houston

While a hammerhead flatworm can reach up to a footlong their slim bodies could make them easy to miss. But wildlife experts say here in Texas they could be lurking right under your feet.

The creature, whose scientific name is Planarian, ranges from light to dark brown in color and lives on land.

”They typically live in the soil, under rocks, mulch, a nice shaded warm wet area,” said Stefan Kuhlman, a wildlife biologist and co-owner of Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal.

He says people may sight more of them because rainy weather forces them out of the ground. However, these worms are also not new to Texas.

”They’ve been here for a very long time over 100 years originally from Southeast Asia,” Khulman said.

The hammerhead flatworm can reproduce by laying eggs or detaching part of its body and turning into two worms. The same could be the case if someone tries to cut one in half.

But General Curator for the Houston Zoo Kevin Hodge says that’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t touch them.

”These chemicals that they exude can be an irritant to the skin,” Hodge said.

Experts say neurotoxins are used to ward off predators and helps in the digestion of their favorite food, earthworms.

”They’ll usually line up their bodies with them and possibly use the neurotoxic venom... Kind of hold them steady as they digest them,” Kuhlman said.

But with the earthworm being an essential part of our ecosystem, animal experts say hammerhead flatworms becoming more and more prevalent could threaten agriculture as we know it.

”It hasn’t reached all of the United States but their numbers are increasing. The longer that they’re here and they’re not being eradicated the numbers are going to increase,” Hodge said.

If you do come across one in your yard you can get rid of it by pouring citrus oil, salt or vinegar on it.

You can also use gloves or a stick pick it up, put it in a plastic bag and throw it away.

If you need any wildlife removed and are unsure of what to do you can call Kuhlman at 832-706-5902 or visit urbanjunglewildliferemoval.com.


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