Aren't we all too familiar with a nasty infestation from bugs and fleas every now and then? Our knee jerk reaction is to either cringe in fear or curbstomp the poor cretins to a mishmash of fluids and disgusting worm juices. Most of the time, those poor worms aren't any more harmful than a fly. But according to wildlife experts, this new Guinea Flatworm is the worst known alien species to have ever hit the US, read on for more info!
It's more than just a disgusting looking creepy crawly
The New Guinea flatworm, or Platydemus manokwari, has such a harmful impact on biodiversity that it is classified as one of the worst known invasive species and is particularly dangerous to land snails. It can prove to be a serious threat to humans as well.
It is a snail killer
It made its way into the US nearly 2 years after invading Europe. It has a taste for escargot (snails) which has helped to almost wipe out snail populations in certain parts of the Pacific Islands. It only recently made its debut in Florida.
How it kills the snail
When snails detect an impending threat, they retreat their bodies inside the relatively safe confinements of their tough shells. But the flatworm latches onto a tiny opening in the shells and spits acid to dissolve the snail's flesh. Poor creatures are eaten alive!
It is primarily spread by the help of humans
The gut wrenchingly disgusting worm has found humans as the most useful means of spreading around the world. Humans come into contact with them both accidentally and intentionally because of the international plant trade to control pests such as the giant African land snail.
They are not easy to eradicate
Their strong black olive colors and massive body length of up to 2 inches makes them easy to spot, but hard to eradicate. Doing so involves methods that put other species at enormous risk. You can't kill the flatworm without inadvertently harming other species.
Scientists hope they would die in the winter
The flatworms are extremely resilient species and can withstand higher temperatures, making it difficult to douse them with fire without destroying other species. Scientists hope that the extreme sub zero temperatures in the winter could kill them instead.
They have a voracious appetite
The primary concern for scientists is the ferocious appetites for earthworms and snails. These nightmarish olive black creatures have helped to drive certain species of snails to extinction. Here's the kicker though, their mouths are actually located in the middle of their white bellies.
But why should we concern ourselves with snails?
They also play an important role in the ecosystem by consuming fungus, decomposing vegetation and animal matter, absorbing nutrients such as manganese and calcium. This makes them as an important source of food for salamanders, mice, birds and other small mammals.
But flatworms are deadly to more than just cretins
Humans should not get too touchy with these potentially deadly creatures. Wildlife experts allege that this carnivorous flatworm carries a deadly toxic along with a parasite which can prove fatal to humans. When eaten by rodents, gases from their droppings can actually cause meningitis!
The deadly parasite they carry can kill a human too!
The flatworm carries a parasite known as the rat lungworm. This dangerous worm can be easily passed onto humans and cause deadly diseases which can lead up the swelling of their brains and spinal cord. If you spot this worm in your house immediately call emergency!
Your only option is to stay away from them!
Humans are traditionally conditioned to stay away from bugs and other cretins. But sometimes they are too curious for their own good and you can always find cases of a goofball touching them to 'learn more'. This is extremely dangerous!
Another troubling aspect
Their arrival in Florida means they have access to large swathes of connected land and can spread more easily. Previously the population of the snail eating flatworm was contained because it primarily resided on Islands. But contact with humans has helped to carry them far and wide across the world.
The expansion doesn't stop
Another reason why they're able to proliferate so easily is the fact that they don't require a mate to procreate. This means a single worm can hatch an egg at will and completely destroy the environment because of their never ending conquest to wipe out every other worm on the floor!
Dangerous for you and the environment
Once the worms come into contact with humans, they begin laying eggs. These hatch and manage to find a safe haven in some deep corner of their suburban home. They grow, eat and continue to grow. And begin their systematic wipeout of innocent snails!
Scientists are helpless against its continued onslaught
Even the nerds in their white lab coats and fancy laboratories are unable to find an innovative means of destroying the flatworm without also killing other species. This means we're helpless until some genius out there figures out a cure.
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