Invasive snake-like hammerhead worms are spreading in Texas


Hammerhead worms, which are native to Japan and Korea, made their way to the United States on the soil of ornamental plants in the 1900s. Hammerhead worms first appeared around the Beaumont area in the 1980s and have invaded North Texas upending local gardens and lawns attacking turf and a variety of common grasses.

The worms are anywhere from four to 15 inches long and secrete chemicals through their skin which can cause skin irritation in humans. They are harmful not only to plants but also to essential earthworms and animals.

The worms are immortal - ie; If you try to cut it in half - the most common way to kill a worm - it will just regrow into two separate worms. Reproduction seems to be primarily achieved through fragmentation. Texas Invasive Species Institute says:

The worm can be killed with orange essence (citrus oil), and salt (as with slugs and snails). They can also be sprayed with a combination of citrus oil and vinegar, or just vinegar alone and it must be applied directly to the flatworm. Placing them in a Ziploc bag with salt or vinegar ensures the flatworm does not crawl away after treatment; then dispose of the sealed bag.

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