Great, Now We Have To Worry About Hammerhead Worms
*Clears throat* 2020, I'm done with you. We've had to deal with almost a year of COVID-19 worries, politics, protests, mysterious China seeds (remember those?), murder hornets for a bit...and NOW you've got the audacity to tell me there are things called hammerhead worms?
Nope. Done with it.
But seriously, these slimy little creatures have already been seen at least 100 times in Georgia and could be inching their way to East Texas. I. CANNOT.
The worms, which can grow to be a foot long, primarily feed on earthworms but will “prey on other soil dwelling invertebrates,” University of Georgia agriculture extension agent James Murphy told CNN.
You can see a picture of the hammerhead worm above. They aren't attractive, and I can tell you my first instinct would be to squash one I saw in my yard.
Here are a few more details that are just meant to make you aware of these worms, not send you into a murder hornet-induced panic:
1. Researchers have considered hammerhead worms to be snake-like due to the fact that their mouth is located halfway down their bodies, and not on their heads.
2. According to a study done by Utah State University, "the worms produce tetrodotoxin, the same deadly neurotoxin produced by pufferfish". It's not clear if this toxin is meant to protect the worm from other predators or allow for it to catch its own prey.
3. Don't think about cutting the worm in half, or cutting its head off to kill it. The hammerhead worm can reproduce from cut body sections. It is recommended that you use hot water to desiccate them. Don't touch them with your hands.
So what do we do now? Just keep an eye out for these things. Hammerhead worms do not pose a threat to crops, residents are encouraged to report sightings to wildlife and agriculture agencies, both state and federal, in order for the spread of the worms to be tracked.
We've got less than 40 days left in this horrible year. Let's power through.
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