New Guinea flatworm, a nasty-looking worm that has its mouth at the center of its belly, is regarded as one of the most notorious invasive species in the world. For the first time ever, these flat worms are discovered in the United States; according to recent reports, they are found in several Miami gardens.
Other than making Florida their home, these creepy-crawly creatures have also been detected in five other new places; they are the Wallis & Futuna Islands, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico, the Solomon Islands and Singapore. All these facts have been revealed by a study published on the scientific mega journal PeerJ on June 23.
Considering their slithery and creepy appearance, it can be said that it’s unlikely that people living in those places will welcome these flatworms gleefully. However, unsightliness is not the only issue with these worms. The species, whose scientific name is Platydemus manokwari, is regarded as a big threat to the snail biodiversity of our planet; this is because these ugly flatworms just love to eat snails.
As mentioned above these creepy creatures have a mouth on their belly; they use this mouth to wrap themselves around snails and eventually ingest them. According to the study published on PeerJ, this eating habit of the New Guinea flatworms had made them the biggest threat to the endemic snails in each and every place the notorious creature has been found.
Due to this eating habit, this flatworm has also found a place in the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. The list has been put together by IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group.
Other than being a big threat to snails, these worms also pose significant danger on other snail-eating animals such as birds. In addition, they might have an impact on plant-life as certain weeds consumed by snails will spread uncontrollably if snail population decreases.
The New Guinea flatworms might also cause problems for humans. Jean-Lou Justine, the study’s author, informed that the mucus of these creatures contains dangerous chemicals, which are probably meant for protecting them against the possible predators. According to Justine, those chemicals might be toxic and can make humans suffer from allergic reactions.