The Charlotte Observer reported last week that the residents of Virginia had discovered a Hammerhead flatworm on their grounds. A hammerhead flatworm resembles any other worm, but it is impossible to kill. And that is so because when cut into two, they simply grow into two different worms. The residents had earlier thought that this was a snake, but this is not even a reptile- but a giant invasive worm. A pest service company named Virginia Wildlife Management and Control logged on Facebook after they were incapable of identifying this reptile. According to several descriptions, the creature had a length of one foot, but with a head shaped like a half-moon.
The Strange Reptile was the Hammerhead Flatworm!
Amidst the followers of this company, word arose that this invasive ‘reptile’ was a hammerhead flatworm. What is surprising is that this worm is native to Asia. These worms have been said to arrive in the country through the trading’s in plants several decades ago- and now have become common. According to a report by The Virginian Pilot in 2013, the nightmarish pest is usually a predator for earthworm- but isn’t dangerous towards pets or humans.
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No, this isn’t the newest trailer for Alien: Covenant, but it is an exciting example of some of the diversity in Mulu National Park! These Hammerhead Flatworms (Bipalium sp.) can be found in various colours around Mulu. Have no fear, they’re harmless to humans. If you’re an earthworm though…sorry for posting this scary sight! (Here you go, @palaeobiologist ) #mulunationalpark #mulu #strangecreatures #predator #invertsrule #bipalium #hammerheadslug #hammerheadflatworm #hammerheadworm #flatworms #planaria #aliens
The hammerhead flatworm reproduces by splitting themselves- with the other half turning into yet another worm. So, if one were to cut them in half as a method of killing them- they are simply helping them reproduce. If a small piece of the hammerhead flatworm gets severed, the front half simply slithers away. But in a span of 10 days, the other half would spout a new head to form another hammerhead flatworm. This is something they can do quite a few times in a single month.
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Are Hammerhead Flatworms Harmful to Humans?
The Virginia Pest company had posted that they had never really seen anything remotely similar before, and they weren’t sure if it was a freak of nature. But after it was reported to be a hammerhead flatworm, the company refused to comment on the development. The hammerhead flatworm usually feeds on other earthworms, but they have also been said to cannibals. According to Pest control, the only way to kill them would be pouring orange essence or salt.
While authorities are sure that they don’t affect humans negatively, their effects on nutrient cycling and soil fertility are yet to be judged. The hammerhead flatworm’s name comes from his head- which is like the hammerhead shark. They have been said to grow about a foot in length.
Hammerhead flatworms are usually attracted to environments that are humid and hot. They are also nocturnal and have currently invaded several states which are on the sides of the Mississippi river. But they have always remained quite infrequent and rare in the state of Virginia. A homeowner did mention that she had seen just one hammerhead flatworm in 25 years.
Image Featured: Wikimedia