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New Guinea Flatworm Begins U.S. Invasion In Florida

New Guinea Flatworm

One of the world’s most invasive species, the New Guinea flatworm, has made its way to the United States and according to The Washington Post, there’s no telling how quickly it’s going to spread.

The highly invasive species makes itself right at home in regions in which it lacks natural predators. As a result, native species which are forced to compete with it are put at risk.

The New Guinea flatworm has reportedly landed in mainland Florida, according to records published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ. According to the study, genetic analysis of local worm specimens has proven that the flatworm is present in Miami, Florida as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico.

New Guinea flatworms, formally known as Platydemus manokwari, are typically limited to islands, which is why it’s difficult for scientists to project their proliferation rate on the mainland. But now that they’re here, scientists are warning that it could spread quickly, United Press International reports.

The invasive species of land planarian has been recorded in 15 countries across the planet. Snails be weary, the flatworm is considered a dangerous predator.

Aesthetics aren’t this very flat worm’s forte, as it exhibits a murky olive back and a pale belly with a mouth located directly in the center of it. An appearance which Washington Post writer Rachel Feltman described in a report as basically “a sneeze with eyes.”

According to Jean-Lou Justine of France’s National Museum of Natural History, all the snails in Europe are at risk as a result of the worm’s taste for snails, as Justine told The Guardian back in 2014, “All snails in Europe could be wiped out.”

All snails in Europe could be wiped out (…) It may seem ironic, but it’s worth pointing out the effect that this will have on French cooking.

And if going after snails wasn’t enough to impact an ecosystem, the flatworm also goes after earthworms. While snails provide a major source of food for many animals in the food chain, earthworms play an important role in agricultural support.

Are you concerned with the P. manokwari invasion?

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