Flat hammerhead worms: What to know about the invasive species

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 9:39 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A warning about a slimy pest that can cause problems in your yard and they’re pretty gross. After a viewer told us one of them made him feel sick, we started asking questions about the flat hammerhead worm.

The Tuscaloosa County Extension Office says you can kill this invasive species.

Neal Hargle serves as the county agent for the Tuscaloosa County Extension Office and by his own admission, the flat hammerhead worm has no place in our gardens.

The phone calls have increased in the last 5 years at the Tuscaloosa County Extension Office, callers wondering what in the world are they seeing in their gardens.

Neal Hargle wondered the same thing and did some research.

For starters, the flat hammerhead worm is likely part of the slug family.

“It has a slimy coating to them, and fortunately to us they are not harmful to humans,” said Hargle.

Not harmful to us or pets, but it’s a good idea not to touch them with bare hands. The worm could cause skin irritations. The worm is considered an invasive species, subtropical and serves no real purpose.

“Absolutely. Eradicate them. Get rid of them,” said Hargle.

Part of their diet includes chewing up the good earthworms you want in your gardens.

“We think they got here basically on the roots or soil or potted plant that was brought somewhere outside whether it be legally or illegally,” said Hargle.

Now the creepy part. The flat hammerhead worms have the ability to regenerate if you cut ‘em with scissors. They can reproduce on their own without a mate.

So what’s the best way to get rid of them?

“Put them in a cup of alcohol or vinegar, but you can put vinegar in a bottle and spray them with vinegar,” said Hargle.

Most of the worms are 6-8 inches in length, but they can grow to a foot long, and they’re no thicker than a pencil, according to Hargle. Slimy, no useful purpose, no need to let them hang around like an uninvited guest.

Hargle says salt will also do the trick.

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