An alien hammerhead worm, capable of reproduction if cut into pieces, invades the United States, scaring locals.
Sightings of the venomous predator have been on the rise across the US, stepping out of their comfort zones into the backyards of East Coast residents.
The slimy insects, which can grow up to 30 cm long, are known as hammerhead flatworms or Bipalium kewense because of their shovel-shaped head.
According to Chris Carlton, director emeritus of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, the insects are “not dangerous” but “predators.”
“They are not dangerous. They’re unusual and kind of weird, and they disgust people because they’re slimy. But that’s about it. They’re predators,” Carlton told the Shreveport Times.
The hammerhead worms are part of the larger family of flatworms, and there are likely five or six different species in North America, Carlton said.
SOUTHEAST ASIA NATIVE
The invasive species emerging in the US are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in hot and humid places.
According to EcoRI News, the worms were transported through Europe and the US with exotic plants and have been in the US since the early 20th century.
They were mainly found in the southern US states due to the warm and humid temperatures; However, due to climate change, they have spread across the nation.
The hammerhead worms are mainly active at night or after rain when the soil is damp. Their preferred targets are snails, insects, snails and earthworms.
“These large terrestrial flatworms crawl around, they live in humid places. You can usually find them under compost or under boards,” Carlton told the outlet.
The expert advises people to think twice before touching or trying to kill the insect.
“If you’ve come into contact with one, you should wash your hands because they produce a toxin,” Carlton said.
If you decide to cut the worm in three, it will multiply into three separate worms.
According to Carlton, the best way to kill these predators is to sprinkle them with salt or vinegar.
SIGHTINGS IN THE USA
Ohio resident Sam McCoy was outside in his backyard on Saturday when he found some hammerhead worms under some wood.
“As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what they were,” McCoy told Fox8, noting that he’d seen an alert about the worms from nearby Trumbull County a few days earlier.
Ohio State University Extension Trumbull County issued a warning to residents about the venomous insect after a resident found a hammerhead worm on their property.
Officials warned local residents not to cut the worms, but to kill them with salt or alcohol.
“Don’t cut them,” the OSU extension said in a Facebook post.
“Hammerhead worms can reproduce asexually, so if you try to kill it by cutting it in half, you now have two Hammerhead worms.”
Meanwhile, sightings of the critter have increased in southern and central Maine since last fall.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5357464/alien-like-hammerhead-worms-invading-us/ Warning about alien hammerhead worms that REPRODUCTIVE if you cut them after invasion by a venomous predator found in the US