One of the World’s Most Invasive Species, the New Guinea Flatworm, Just Showed Up in Florida

The highly invasive New Guinea flatworm has been spotted in Florida. (PHOTO CREDIT: Pierre Gros)
The highly invasive New Guinea flatworm has been spotted in Florida. (PHOTO CREDIT: Pierre Gros)

The New Guinea flatworm is kind of a pest. In fact, it’s considered one of the world’s most invasive species. When it shows up uninvited to a region where it lacks natural predators, it makes itself at home — at the cost of native species forced to compete with it. And now, the flatworm has made its way to mainland Florida, putting the whole country at risk of an invasion. Reports of the worm were published Tuesday in PeerJ.

Platydemus manokwari isn’t dangerous to humans. Not directly, anyway. But it also isn’t pretty: The very flat worm grows to about two inches long, and has a murky olive back and a pale belly — a belly with a mouth in the middle of it. So it basically looks like a sneeze with eyes.

But while the New Guinea flatworm poses no danger to you, it could harm the ecosystem: The flatworm is known to feast on local snails wherever it lands, even climbing up trees to get to them. When the species showed up in France in 2014, researchers argued that consequences could be dire if the species wasn’t eradicated immediately. The species is currently contained to a single hothouse, but hasn’t been eradicated.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: The Washington Post, Rachel Feltman

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