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Because of the half-moon form of their heads, hammerhead worms are identified by many names, together with hammerhead flatworm, arrowhead flatworm, and broadhead planarian (a class of flathead worms). Dubbed a “poisonous terrestrial flatworm,” Bipalium kewense is a carnivorous land planarian identified to prey on earthworms, slugs, insect larvae, and different hammerhead worms. As a result of they feed voraciously on earthworms, that are crucial for his or her position in aerating and fertilizing soil, hammerhead worms are thought of a threatening invasive species.
Native to Southeast Asia, hammerhead worms have been present in components of the US since 1980 and have develop into invasive around the globe. Nonetheless, their want for top humidity means they’re most frequently present in tropical and subtropical areas. They like cool, damp habitats, and since they’re gentle delicate, they feed at evening.
See more: How to get rid of hammerhead worms
Just like the hammerhead shark, the hammerhead worm will get its moniker from its distinctive spade-shaped head. It has an extended, flattened physique that ranges from 8 to fifteen inches, and it may be present in shades of grey, brown, gold, and inexperienced. The worm secretes a potent neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, which it makes use of to immobilize its prey and deter predators. The noxious chemical substances it releases may cause pores and skin irritation in people and set off nausea in animals who devour the worms.
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BEFORE YOU BEGIN
As a result of hammerhead worms devour helpful worms, secrete toxic toxins, and transmit dangerous nematode parasites, they need to be eliminated at any time when discovered. Care ought to be taken to keep away from touching them, however in the event you do, it’s advisable to scrub and disinfect your palms.
STEP 1: Examine your property for hammerhead worms.
This flathead worm was first dropped at the US in horticultural vegetation and has been present in greenhouses since 1901. Its inconspicuous eggs disguise in vegetation, that are then distributed by landscapers, backyard facilities, and different retailers. With no identified pure predators, the worms unfold rapidly.
The primary U.S. recognizing of hammerhead worms was in Texas roughly three to 4 many years in the past. They’ve since unfold to coastal areas, the place they get pleasure from tropical and subtropical situations, however they’ve been documented in greenhouses all over the place. Just like the earthworms they devour, they want the moist atmosphere of the soil. Like their prey, they will usually be discovered on prime of the soil after a rain.
STEP 2: In case you spot a hammerhead worm, take a photograph.
“Ought to I kill hammerhead worms?” Sure, however first take a photograph and ship it to your native cooperative extension service, your state’s division of pure assets, or, in the event you dwell in Texas, to the Texas Invasive Species Institute. These teams examine and observe invasive species like this worm, gathering numbers and areas of sightings. Not one of the hammerhead worm species have been evaluated for inclusion on the IUCN Crimson Listing, and there’s no proof that their numbers are threatened.
STEP 3: Acquire hammerhead worms in a sealable container.
In case you discover a hammerhead worm in your backyard, seize it in a sealable plastic bag or another sealable container. Don’t contact it together with your palms; use a stick, gloves, or paper towel to position it into the container. In case you do contact it, be sure you wash and disinfect your palms.
Putting the worms in a container ensures they received’t be capable of get away and makes it simpler to use an answer to kill them.
STEP 4: Sprinkle salt or spray vinegar immediately onto hammerhead worms.
Apply salt and/or grain vinegar focus to the hammerhead worms within the bag, seal the bag, and place it within the freezer for 48 hours to make sure that the worm has dissolved. Soapy water, neem oil, citrus oil, boric acid, or pesticides might also work.
Don’t lower the worm into items. Every part can regenerate into a completely developed worm inside just a few weeks. One of many methods they reproduce is by asexual fragmentation, so that you’ll solely compound the issue in the event you lower up the worm in an try to kill it.
STEP 5: Discard the dissolved worms and sanitize the container.
After a hammerhead worm has been sealed in a plastic bag, handled with salt (or a mixture of salt and vinegar), and positioned within the freezer for 48 hours, the Texas Invasive Species Institute recommends discarding the still-sealed baggie within the trash.
Alternatively, you should utilize a glass jar with a lid or any form of plastic sealable container. Most sources advise tossing the sealed container into the trash, however in the event you want to reuse it, it ought to be cleaned and disinfected with alcohol or one other sturdy disinfectant.
STEP 6: Hold looking out for added hammerhead worms and repeat Steps 3 via 5 as wanted.
If in case you have discovered one hammerhead worm, there are in all probability extra, so stay vigilant. Study your backyard, significantly within the early morning after a rain after they’re more likely to be simply discovered on the floor. You should definitely take a photograph to be despatched alongside to the suitable authority, then accumulate, kill, and freeze the worms earlier than you eliminate them as described above. As a result of they secrete toxins, it’s crucial that you simply deal with the worms correctly, and since they will reproduce by division, be sure that they’re fully useless earlier than being discarded.
To maintain hammerhead worms at bay, apply boric acid to the soil in your backyard each 2 weeks to create an acidic atmosphere through which hammerhead worms can’t survive.
It’s essential to maintain a watch out for these invasive, poisonous worms. The slimy predators threaten earthworms, that are important to our ecosystem as a result of they assist decompose natural matter and incorporate soil amendments. Understanding determine and accurately kill and dispose of those nuisance worms will assist hold your backyard and your pets secure and wholesome.
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