There are a number of different types of flatworms. Most are parasitic. The different types of flatworms include, but are not limited to flukes, planarians, blood flukes, tapeworms, pork tapeworms, fish tapeworms, beef tapeworms, lung flukes, Chinese liver flukes, urinary blood flukes, Oriental blood flukes, intestinal blood flukes, cat liver and flukes. Many flatworms travel around the world in greenhouse plants, but most can survive just about anywhere. While this unique worm can survive in both hot to freezing climates, they do not fare well in drier regions.
Flatworms may grow up to 20 inches long and they typically have slim bodies, which allow them to move along the ground with a gliding motion. The body secretes mucus from glands on its belly or underside. Land-dwelling flatworms can be spotted in the early morning hours, especially after a hard rain. They are nocturnal, however, and they love wet surfaces. They will stick to just about any moist or wet surface, as well as dry tree branches and trunks. Keep in mind that there are several varieties of land flatworms.
Two of the most common types of land flatworms include the hammerhead flat worm and the flatworm with a pointed head (instead of a hammerhead), with a dark brown body. The flatworm is usually medium-brown in color with dark markings or stripes. Some worms may appear gray to greenish/gray as well. All types feed on beneficial earthworms, so beware.
If you have a flatworm infestation, there are several ways to control populations. The first thing to keep in mind is, if you attempt to chop a flatworm in half or even smash it, the pieces will only regenerate into new flatworms. So, even if you chop a flat worm into seven pieces, you will end up with seven newly generated worms. You must dissolve the flatworm completely in order to get rid of it.
Flatworm treatment methods include salt, vinegar, and citrus oil. These products must be applied directly to the flat worms in order to be effective. Spreading them around the soil or areas where you the worms have been spotted won’t dissolve these parasites completely. You can use a spray bottle for the vinegar and citrus oil methods and you can simply pour the salt over the worms to dissolve them.
In general, most garden worms are quite harmless and in most instances, they can be beneficial to your garden, plants, and trees. Most garden worms help to control destructive termite larvae and grubs, as well as other destructive garden pests. They can also help mix the earths soil by burrowing into the ground or even writhing around in topsoil. While most garden worms are helpful, so they should be left alone, there are some (such as the flatworm) that are dangerous and should be eliminated. The flatworm does not help to control other pest populations as most worms do. They actually kill and eat earthworms, exclusively. The flatworm is considered a parasite and it devours its only prey by pushing its throat outside if its mouth and snapping up any part of the earthworm’s body. It melts the earthworm’s body with an enzyme and slowly eats it until the earthworm is completely consumed. It is important to remember that earthworms are the most important creatures on earth.
Earthworms play an important part in fertilizing the soil, and they also help with oxygen and water flow into the soil. Earthworms excrete tons of castings (excrement) each year, which is a powerful fertilizer. Just think, 25 earthworms per square foot of soil equal 1 million earthworms per acre. In healthy soil, 40 tons of castings per acre pass through earthworms’ bodies daily. A new U.S. study suggests that there are 1.5 million worms per acre, which move 20 tons of earth each year.
Earthworms also burrow into the soil creating passageways for oxygen and water. Because earthworms are so important to the survival of the earth’s plants, trees, and crops, when trying to get rid of destructive creatures such as flatworms, you must take special care not to harm the earthworms.
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