Invasive hammerhead worms have been spotted around Ohio. What to do if you find one

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Hammerhead worms are an invasive species, and they have recently been spotted in Ohio.

The Ohio State University Extension in Trumbull County warned residents earlier this month that a homeowner had spotted a hammerhead worm in their lawn.

Because hammerhead worms reproduce asexually, the OSU Extension warns people that if they do find one, to not cut it in half, as it will only result in two new worms. Instead, the best method to kill it is to use either salt or rubbing alcohol.

In addition to Trumbull County, hammerhead worms have also been spotted in Darke and Portage counties.

What do hammerhead worms look like?

A hammerhead worm discovered in Springfield, Missouri.
A hammerhead worm discovered in Springfield, Missouri.

Hammerhead worms can be up to 12 inches long, with a crescent-shaped head and are usually orange, yellow or brown with one to several stripes along the back, according to the OSU Extension.

Their mouths are in an unusual spot, located on the underside of their body toward the middle, and they wrap around their prey to consume it. Hammerhead worms are also predatory, eating other organisms that commonly live in dirt like earthworms, snails, slugs and arthropods.

They are shiny and covered in a slime-like substance. Like puffer fish, hammerhead worms produce a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin to help them eat their prey. Although it is in small quantities in the worm, it can cause irritation if touched by bare skin.

A family recently discovered a hammerhead worm on their property in southeast Springfield.
A family recently discovered a hammerhead worm on their property in southeast Springfield.

Where did hammerhead worms come from?

Hammerhead worms are part of the terrestrial flatworms species and are more common in Southern states, including North Carolina or Florida.

They are native to tropics areas, especially Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa and South America, according to the North Carolina State Extension, and likely were introduced to new areas thanks to human trade and movement of items like soil and potted plants around the world.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Hammerhead worms in Ohio: What to do if you find one in your yard