“What’s your advice about disposing of dead worms?” asks this reader in her query concerning the discovery of “flatheads” on her enclosed patio. She asks specifically if a “flathead worm” can “come back to life or reproduce” after it has dried out or died “on the cement”.
Now, when our reader writes “flathead worm”, we are going to assume she is referring to the hammerhead flatworm, which is a species of terrestrial flatworm with a spade-shaped head. Additionally, our reader states that she usually empties her vacuum canister in her compost, but now that the hammerheads have begun showing up on her patio, she is afraid that if they are not completely dead, then she is adding these worms to her compost. Likewise, she worries that she might be “blowing them back into the yard with the leaf blower or hose” when she cleans the patio.
ATTENTION: GET PARASITE HELP NOW! At All About Worms we get a lot of questions about skin parasites, blood parasites, and intestinal parasites in humans. Because we can't diagnose you, we have put together this list of doctors and labs who understand and specialize in dealing with parasites in humans! That resource is HERE
First off, if any organism is truly dead, then it cannot come back to life or reproduce, but we think we understand our reader’s question in the context of hammerhead worms. The amazing thing about this creature is that, if cut into pieces, those pieces will, over time, grow into individual hammerhead worms, which might be seen as a form of resurrection, or cloning. To be clear, if one cut a hammerhead worm into four pieces, one would then get four hammerhead worms where there was only had one before. So, to answer our reader’s question, a hammerhead worm can “come back to life”, depending on the context. If it died by getting dried out, then it will not come back to life or reproduce. If it was cut into pieces, then yes those pieces will develop into hammerhead worms. If the latter is the case, then our reader may not want them in her compost. But, if they died in any other way, then no, they cannot come back to life.
Secondly, when it comes to disposing dead worms. We recommend taking the worm somewhere outside and leaving it there, where other animals may be able to feed on the dead worm to survive, or where it may decompose and ‘feed’ the earth. Throwing away dead worms in one’s garbage or compost may not be the best idea, especially a dead hammerhead worms, as other creatures may be attracted to the dead worm. In fact, it may even attract other hammerhead worms, who are known to eat their own kind, and are excellent trackers. On another note, if our reader wants to prevent more hammerhead worms from entering her patio, we recommend lining her patio with salt, as this is harmful to them, and will discourage them from going any further.
In conclusion, hammerhead worms can indeed come back to life if they are cut into several pieces, but otherwise they cannot. We hope that this article answered our reader’s questions, and that she learned something interesting about the hammerhead worm! We wish her the best of luck with keeping these critters off her patio!
|No Paywall Here!
All About Worms is and always has been a free resource. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or make you give us your email address, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to pay our research authors, and to run and maintain the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep All About Worms free?