PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — An invasive species with a ferocious name has been spotted in Northeast Ohio.
Sam McCoy was out in his backyard in Garrettsville Saturday, when he found a couple hammerhead worms underneath some lumber.
“I knew as soon as I saw them exactly what they were,” McCoy said, mentioning he had seen a warning about the worms from nearby Trumbull County a few days prior.
McCoy said he killed all of the worms he found, but the species is reportedly challenging to get rid of.
Ohio State University Extension Trumbull County posted on Facebook last week that a resident there had also found a hammerhead worm on their property. The group told people the safest way to kill the worms is to use salt or rubbing alcohol.
“Do not cut them,” the OSU Extension said in the post. “Hammerhead worms can reproduce asexually, so that means if you try to kill it by cutting it in half you will now have two hammerhead worms.”
The predator worms eat other worms (including earthworms, which reportedly serve an important role in the soil ecosystem), and also prey on snails and slugs. On top of this, the alien-looking hammerhead worms can be an irritant to humans in more ways than one, producing a neurotoxin similar to the one found in pufferfish.
“It has been reported that some people are sensitive to the mucus they secrete,” OSU Extension said. “So it is advised not to handle them without gloves.”