A reader just sent us a photograph of a worm she discovered in her flower bed in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The specimen in question is brown, has an arrow-shaped head, and is very long. There is nothing in the photo to use as a scale for size comparison, but we think it must be at least a foot long! Here is the photograph she sent us:
We are confident that this is a hammerhead flatworm! This creature is also known by the following names: land planarian, terrestrial flatworm, broadhead planarian, and arrowhead flatworm. Hammerhead flatworms are named for the distinctive shape of their head. These worms belong to the Bipalium genus, which is made up of relatively large predatory land planarians. There are over 50 species of these creatures, many of which are considered to be invasive species in the United States. We aren’t sure of the exact species of this particular hammerhead flatworm.
As we mentioned earlier, hammerhead flatworms are predatory. Many species hunt earthworms, and they are able to hunt their prey leading up to the attack. Since earthworms are crucial to the environment, some people consider hammerhead flatworms pests because they hunt and kill them. Unfortunately, getting rid of these land planarians in your garden can be a tricky task. If you cut them into pieces, they will simply regenerate into new hammerhead flatworms. Therefore, to get rid of them you must dissolve them using citrus oil, salt, or vinegar. Our reader didn’t mention her desire to say goodbye to this worm, so we don’t know if she wrote to us because she was annoyed by its presence and wanted to get rid of it, or if she was just curious about what it was and why it was in her garden.
In summary, a reader sent us a picture of a long, brown worm with a broad arrow-shaped head. We believe this is a hammerhead flatworm!
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