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Out of interest, is the places where people are finding flat worms, sandy soil? I have heavy clay (though getting well loamed with time) and no flat worms. Have loads of earthworms and no sign (yet) of NZ Flatworms.

I think I may have NZ flat worms in my garden. I found 3 largish worms with pointed heads and a pail fleshy grey colour. the underside seemeed to have edges which could be a bit like tracks to move along. in more than 40 years of gardening i have never seen anything like it. Diffinately NOT earth worms or slow worms or anthything alse I know. I killed them I am afraid and now i wonder if i have killed somethig i should not have. If I find any more should I send the to soemone? I live in the South of England
I'm more than a little concerned that i may have found these little critters under my potted gooseberry bush. As i live in Devon you can understand my surprise when i read that it is more usually found in the northern counties. To that end i would like to know what to do about them. I don't want to kill them in case I'm mistaken in it's identification.
Having noted a spectacular reduction in earth worms, although not tiger worms, in my vegetable garden I have begun a 'vendetta' on the flatworms and over the last 7 days have trapped and destroyed a total of 31 of them by laying black plastic sheeting on cleared areas of the vegetable plot.
I should mention that a report completed in 2000 by the departments involved in this type of work suggested that earthworm numbers did not appear to reduce when flatworms were found, however, from my experience and others commenting on this problem this would not appear to be the case - check'flatworms' on the web to access this report.
T.McD. 3.10.12
I do share concerns expressed earlier about importing pests and diseases with our plants. Does the use of multipurpose composts encourage the breeding of vine weevils? I think they do. As far as I can I check new plants, their pots, etc. for "stowaways." I think we do need to be more vigilant. I'm not aware of any flatworms yet but......



If they look like this then destroy them, and save the good old English earth worm.

just found my first flatworm in Perth Scotland and they do decimate earthworms as my colleague in Wolfhill will confirm. The bedding thrown on the ground from his rabbit hutch used to disappear over time but since the discovery of flatworms now just lies there and accumulates.

The earthworms are no longer there in numbers to remove the bedding as they did before.

I've never heard flatworms mentioned on Gardeners World even when all that plant swapping fairs are going on. How can we stop them spreading if they are never mentioned.

I'm beginning to see more earthworms, but only after 3 years of killing flatworms stopped count the first year at 300, the more flat plastic sheet type traps I lay the more I catch, still catching plenty

I have just found my first NZF in my garden in Totnes Devon. It was in some of last years multipurpose compost which kept in a small dust bin with a lid in the green house. I gave the compost a watering a day before i was going to use it then while sorting in a tray I found the flat. Which makes me think it came in in the bag of compost and we all could be moving them around in the compost we buy.

I just found my first flatworm in East Sussex, at least I'm sure that's what it must be (have been, as it's squashed now) It was stuck to the underside of black polythene covering a layer of manure on a bed. It appeared to be attached to the polythene by a sucker like mouth. Made me think of a leach, although not sure if I've ever seen one of those? I have a feeling that it might've come in with the manure...

 Any poisons been found yet

I live in South Manchester and saw my first New Zealand flatworm last September curled up in the loose bark of a tree stump. It was a large adult which I think must have come from a local garden centre when buying plants for my pond. Since then I have found many smaller ones at the bottom of my POND when using a net. They move extremely fast in water.

I think brought in composts, manures, plants in pots etc will be how these flat worms will enter our gardens.  I am careful to check plants but mpc etc are more difficult...these are not as good, as clean or as pest free as I think they once were.  I remember one batch actually contained weedkiller.


I found them this yr nr Ayr. Just a couple, but had read some article long ago and remembered them. From all of your posts, laying black polythene is a good trap? I lay it every yr about now to start warming my veg beds, but can't say that's where I found them. Plenty slugs and snails, though, all fed to the birds! Will birds eat them? Will it harm them if they do? I have noticed less worms in my compost and it has taken longer to decompose this last yr. 

Verdun, I agree with you, and I would like to make my own potting compost, but I barely keep up with the needs of my beds with homemade compost. And how do you sterilise home-made potting composts?


I live in Devon and have been waging war on these awful Australian flatworms for about 5 years.I have killed literally thousands. I suggest you go out at night with a flash-light, you will find loads of them out hunting,they like edges of paths, and I find turf laid on paths or fallow ground is the best trap.Look under all your pots as well. I have even picked them off the poor worms which once caught can not dislodge them.  I have noticed a marked increase in worms and decrease of flatworms this year,but am concerned they have just "shrunk" and am waiting to make a comeback.I have never seen a beetle eating one, but have noticed a lot of beetle activity around flatworm areas.



About 20 years ago I lived on the Island of Bute and found them in my garden.  Within 2 years all earthworms disappeared and the soil became increasingly compacted and difficult to dig.  I contacted a boffin at the University of Aberdeen and corresponded with him over a few years.  Originally he asked me to post him worms which I caught in a sealed plastic bag but as they were so numerous, latterly, I counted the ones I destroyed and reported back.  I could kill anything up to 5000 in a year and the numbers never seemed to diminish.  When I moved to my current home in North Ayrshire, I scrupulously washed all gardening equipment and did not bring any plants as I did not wish to spread the problem.  This worked, until now.

13 years on, I have just discovered one under a bag of compost in my greenhouse.  I can't say how disappointed I am......


I am very pleased to say i was digging a new bed yesterday and found hundreds of good earth worms and have never seen any NZ flat worms. I have heavy clay soil and am in Gloucestershire. Thanks for this thread as I now know what too look out for.(hopefully will not get them)

I think I read somewhere that these flatworms carry a caustic "sap".  Anyone know if this is true?  

Not nice then!