What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear Mr. Bugman,
I cannot say how much I love your site. I have three pics for you, I hope that’s ok? The first is a decent picture of a marbled orb weaver (I recognized it from your site), I just thought you might enjoy the picture. The other two are of a weird, weird worm that visited the concrete porch at my old house in Atlanta when it rained. I’m sorry about the picture quality. Can you tell that it was kind of flat, slimy, not a snake and has a weird sort of hammer-head? We’ve moved so I’m no longer freaked out about them, but what were they? I even took a little one to the local university’s entomology department and they didn’t know. We got tons of slugs and snails when it rained too, and that backyard had flooding problems.
Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,
Thank you for the compliment. We are very excited to get your worm photos. We have received several letters regarding the Arrow-Headed Flatworm, Bipalium kewensis, but we have never gotten a photo. According to Hogue: “This land planarian is slender and brown, with five dark longitudinal stripes; it can be large, up to 10 inches in length. The species is ‘hammerheaded’: the head is shovel-shaped (wider than body) and there are numerous minute eyes along its border. The species was discovered in 1878 in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens near Londodn, hence its scientific name. It has a wide distribution in warm climates. It needs a moist habitat and is usually encountered near outdoor water faucets, where the soil often remains wet. It original home is unknown but is possibly the Indo-Malayan region. Flatworms are hermaphroditic, and copulation involves mutual insemination; they may also reporduce asexually by fragmentation. The eggs are encapsulated and affixed to objects in damp places. These are benign creatures–they do not damage plants or cause any medical problems.” Your Marbled Orb Weaver photo is awesome.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

7 Responses to Arrow-Headed Flatworm

  1. Mike Terrell says:

    I found your site, while searching for the ID of the worm that crawled into my house this evening!

    The pictures and description of the “mystery” worm was dead-on!….It is a Flat Headed Worm!

    You didn’t have any pictures until the post from Jennifer in Atlanta (I’m located just outside of Atlanta)….give me mailing info and I will send you the actual worm!

    Mike!

    • bugman says:

      We are happy to hear you identified your Arrow-Headed Flatworm. Thanks for the offer but we do not deal in the mail order distribution of “bugs”.

  2. Michelle says:

    These Arrow-headed worms keep coming into my house, at first I thought they were just slugs but they were extremely long. My son found one last night by accidently stepping on it. My question is: are they harmful to humans and animals?

    Michelle

    • bugman says:

      They are not harmful, but you did not indicate a location which might help to explain why they are entering your home.

  3. Carter says:

    UUUGGGHHH. Thanks goodness. I was out in my backyard today in Hong Kong and I saw one of these guys. I totally thought it was a leech. I have HUGE fear of leeches, so I am VERY glad it wasn’t one. I just stumbled across your site, and it is very helpful, especially living overseas with so many unknown to myself creatures. Thanks.

    -Carter

  4. Jill says:

    Thank you for the identification. We just found two crawling across our front walkway. I’m an avid gardener and have been digging in the dirt in Los Alamitos, CA for 47 years, this is the first time I’ve ever seen one! I wonder how they got here as I don’t think this species is “normal” around here.

    • bugman says:

      The Arrowhead Flatworm is mentioned in our 1993 edition of Insects of the Los Angeles Basin so they have been in California at least that long.

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