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In a very short time, the New Guinea flatworm, measuring at only 1 to 3 inches long, has taken over the Florida Keys. Although this carnivorous worm does not look alarming, the damage it has done to the snail population in the Keys has been evident.

“They are a large threat to snails,” said Tim Collins, director of graduate biological sciences at FIU. “They hunt in packs and in some parts of the world they were introduced intentionally to eat the Giant African snail, and groups of these flatworms would take the giant snail down.”

The New Guinea Flatworm was first documented in the Florida Keys in November of 2016. Since then there have been six or seven verified New Guinea flatworms submitted to Collins that were found from mile marker 102 to County Road 905. The invasive flatworm would be more socially acceptable in the environment if it had a different taste in snails however due to it’s taste for the native Stock Island tree snail- a federally listed and protected Florida tree snail- we must do our part to properly document any sightings of them.

Read the full article to find out more about what you should do if you come across these flatworms.