DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As spring progresses and plants begin to grow, one invasive species is beginning to come out in numbers in Ohio.
Hammerhead worms originate from tropical regions and have been transported to the United States by plants shipped from other countries. The worms have been here for many years, but with the cool and moist spring, they are beginning to show up. The worms have a toxic mucus, which can be sensitive to some people. They also reproduce when they are cut in half.
Suzanne Mills-Wasniak, educator of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Montgomery County Ohio State University Extension said, “They have the ability in their genetics to regenerate if you cut them in half or in even quarters, they can regenerate. That is why we want to kill the hammerhead, because they are a pest to earthworms, a predator to earthworms, so we don’t want to increase their numbers.”
While they don’t directly go after plants, continued reproduction of these worms can destroy the ecosystem of the soil.
“The hammerheads are a predator to earthworms, so consequently the soil health is affected by less earthworms, and the plant health would be affected by less earthworms.”
There is one way to kill hammerhead worms, but that method could also cause harm to plants.
“Put salt on them if you don’t want to touch them, if you don’t have disposable gloves you can put salt on them. But you have to remember that if you put salt on them you are putting salt in the environment and depending on where you’re at you can cause some other issues.”
Mills-Wasniak said she has received many reports of hammerhead worms over the past month here in Montgomery County.