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the mucus can cause a reaction on human skin.  My boffin advised wearing rubber gloves when on 'safari'.  He also advised dropping them into a jar of bleach solution.  This also kills and is less smelly than salt water.

When they are ready to reproduce, they develop a lump.  The skin splits and one of the black eggs slips through the slit. It looks like a shiny black bead.  The egg contains up to 10 tiny flatworms which can survive  immediately.  They grow on until they split the egg and then go off on the hunt. 

I knew what it was when I found one killing an earthworm last yr. It was wrapped around ot like a boa constrictor around it's prey. I lightly cultivated my veg beds that have been under black polythene for a few wks. I found lots, and promptly chucked them into a marg tub of salt. Slugs and shails get chucked onto the bird table, and the birds flock for them when I call them. 'gourmet dinner, come n get it'. But when I put them on the table, (the unsalted ones!) the birds left them alone. I thought that salt may do it as they are so slimy like slugs. However, in my well composted beds I found only one tiny earthworm.She was rescued to the compost heap, but may not have been the best place for her. However, yesterday, I took it into my head to re-align the bricks that edge my FRONT lawn, which entailed removing chunks of turf from the edges. I did find LOADS of earhworms and not one nasty NZF. (but loads of leatherjackets, too). The worms were gently put away from me into the freshly cutivated border soil, and the leatherjackets went to the birds. It is strange that I have no worms in the beds that used to be full of them. I try not to dig at all, just add compost for the worms to sort, which they usually do over winter, but this yr, a warm one, the compodt just sat, unmoved, even after I covered it. But my front lawn was full of good girls and nit one nasty git! Just 100 yds of gravel apart! Have to say, my soil in the beds has a 'lifeless' feel to it this yr. I have not even seen any slug trails anywhere nr my pak choi, and they have been totally untouched this yr. Will the nasties eat slugs, if they have finished off the worms? The only real sign of any life was ants. And I can't kill them, since I saw firsthand the intricacy of their nest when I wanted to use my well rotted turf pile. How they scurried to save their eggs and pupae, some carrying several at a time. 2 hrs wasted watching them alone, then the boys got home from school to be thoroughly bored by my fascination and awed narrative! Also, they have never harmed my plants or kids, and they do produce a lovely fluffy light loam, from turf. Straight  through the fine sieve, no bother. could maybe be as useful as the wee red wrigglers? I'll ask Edd!Anyway, how can I have the buggers destroying my organic, well fed veg beds, but not in my front lawn? Borders rarely fed, lawn likewise? I am now even going to wash the lawnmower before I take it into the front. I would hate to spread them.Could the worms migrate to escape the wee sods? The borders and lawn were quite dry (very stony soil), and usually I see few worms there. This is fascinating but very frustrating, too.

That's really good advice. The more we know about them and the way they reproduce the better well be at getting rid of them. 

But has anyone else got some in their pond. These too give a stinging effect when picked up and they move really fast?

I hope so. I found an adult NZ flatworm last autumn but no sign of any more, but I keep on looking! Thanks.


I've never seen one, touch wood.

I think that the best reason ever for growing as much as possible from seed and not importing plants. 

Does anyone know if the eggs survive the composting process for the rubbish that is being sold back to us as recycled compost?


 Tis forum has been very helpful. Thanks


I'm really glad of that advice, Edd, as I was hoping to send some hostas to another forum member, and plants down to the Somerset Levels. I have a large dog bath with hot running water, so will try the immersion process first. Good to see the eggs to know what to destroy, Thank You.

I found one about fifteen years ago under a heavy pot Here outside Dublin.  I assume it came in with a bought plant.  Never found another here or on the allotment, tho the eggs seem oddly familiar, like berries.


I've never seen one - hope I'm not talking them up - fingers are very crossed!!!

Found one, the first I have seen an hour ago (Aberdeen, UK) while a slug search following a foggy, wet and chilly day (current night temp 7 degrees Celcius). I was collecting some of the dead slugs and a flatworm moved out from under one one of the darker slugs. I thought to myself "I hope that isn't a NZ flatworm", I placed it in a sample vial, came inside and positively identified it as a Arthurdendyus triangulatus. I noticed a couple of earthworms Aporrectodea rosea on the path near where I had been cutting slugs. One appears to be in a great deal of distress. About half an hour later a couple of small slugs were where I marked the position of the distressed rosyworm (perhaps it had sustained a deep wound and the slugs were feeding on the exudate. As to how the species got in my garden, that's guesswork. I don't buy in plants though there are bought-in plants in the garden from several years ago. I don't buy in growing media other than seed compost which I always sieve but I have taken in a few wheelie bins of leaves I collected at the park. Manure has been bought in. A neighbour brought plants back from Australia though she claims they were declared at customs. I have abundant populations of compost worms in the compost bins but there is marked decrease in populations of earthworms from a few decades ago.
I found some flatworms under a slab in my daughter's garden in Shanklin. They were not dark brown, but a bright salmon pink. When disturbed, they stretched out to perhaps 5 inches in length. I didn't have a camera with me so no photo, I'm afraid. Are these harmless? Should I advise her to destroy them and if so, how?

Are these flat worms actually from NEwZealand? Perhaps they have had them for Quite a few years. Does anyone know what the effects are after all this time and what do they turn to eat when the earthworms are depleted. 

Samantha T

I discovered them in my beloved garden in Plymouth. They were even in my wormery. Gutted. I search and destroy them and have noticed a decrease in numbers. Mine have a silver stripe down them and are not particularly flat either. I googled them and there are many different types. Some of the ones i find are very black and glossy looking.

Apparently there are several native flat worm species in the uk and many other species from other parts of the world which have hitched a ride over here too. The new Zealand flat worm is the most dangerous to our earth worms as native flat worms mainly feed on dead slugs and worms. 

March 2017

In 25 years have never seen any flatworms in my mid-Cornwall garden until this spring. Have now found about 8 under a slab temporarily on the lawn, and a couple more under a large plant pot in another area of the garden. They're the orangy coloured Australian type, not the darker NZ flatworms. Have squashed all I see.

I was alerted to the possiblility of flatworm invasion by finding quite a number of dead or dying and damaged earthworms on my garden paths this spring, with birds uninterested in them. I vaguely remembered hearing about threat to earthworms from non-native flatworms so looked it up.

Could we have an item on Gardeners World to publicise this problem so we can all be alert for this pest and destroy them whenever possible. So far I have plenty of earthworms but I'm now worried as I don't know the extent of the flatworm population in my garden.

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