News & Politics

If You See This Worm, Kill It!

Invasive hammerheads are in our area.

Hammerhead worms have been spotted slithering around our area, and experts suggest that if you see one, you should kill it. The invasive species can erode local ecosystems by feasting on earthworms, slugs, and snails. Climate change is expanding their domain, so they could become a lot more common around here. You’re most likely to see them under foliage in the garden or a wooded area, but they can also show up in places like sidewalks after rainfall. The icky creatures are known for secreting a neurotoxin that can make pets ill, so don’t let your bug-hungry dog get too curious. They can also cause a rash on human skin.

So what do you do if one slithers your way? Definitely don’t chop it in half—the severed body can (yikes!) re­generate to make new worms. Instead, experts say you should dump salt or vinegar on it, then wear gloves to grab the dead worm, put it in a bag, and throw it in the garbage.

This article appears in the September 2023 issue of Washingtonian. 

Nick Pasion
Editorial Fellow