Many people wonder, do hammerhead worms bite? These worms do not bite, but they can still harm people and animals in a couple of different ways. The first way is that they secrete poisonous chemicals through their skin that can cause irritation in humans.
For hammerhead worms, the purpose of these secretions is to protect themselves from predators. But when people touch or handle the worm with their bare hands, the toxins on the worm’s body are likely to cause irritation. Touching one of these things can even cause a mild rash on your skin. If you handle a hammerhead worm with your bare hands, be sure to wash your skin thoroughly with soap as soon as possible. This will help to reduce any potential irritation.
These same poisonous secretions can also make animals sick if they consume a hammerhead worm. Dogs and cats that eat one of these worms may feel bad for a few days afterward. If you see your pet playing predator with a strange-looking worm, get your pet to safety as quickly as possible.
The other way that hammerhead worms can directly cause harm is through the parasitic nematodes they carry. Nematodes are tiny, non-segmented worms. Some types of nematodes can be good, since they feed on bacteria and fungi. Parasitic nematodes, however, can make people sick. The larger parasitic ones can even prevent people from receiving needed nutrition from the foods they eat.
The nematodes in hammerhead worms are transmittable to humans through skin-to-skin contact. This is another reason that it’s so important not to pick these worms up without protection. If you find one, use a paper towel to pick it up, or wear garden gloves. Handle it carefully, so you don’t accidentally segment its body. Then drop the worm into a sealable plastic bag so it can’t escape. Once it is safely sealed away, wash your hands with soap and water to remove any trace of toxins that might have touched your skin.
How to Get Rid of Hammerhead Worms
Knowing how to get rid of hammerhead worms depends on knowing what not to do if you find one. The main thing to avoid is doing anything that will segment its body. These worms reproduce by fragmentation. This means that cutting or pinching off any section of a hammerhead worm’s body won’t kill the worm. It will just create a new one.
Pest control professionals do not treat for hammerhead worms. This is because there aren’t any products on the market that are made for broad treatment of landscaping or turf to control this invasive species. This means that getting rid of hammerhead worms is a DIY project.
If you have hammerhead worms in your soil, be very careful when digging them out. You’ll need to wear gloves to protect your skin from their poisonous secretions. As you dig in the soil and move it around to uncover the worm, do your best to get the worm out in one piece. This is to avoid segmenting the worm into multiple new, living worms.
Once you have the worm, you should put it into a sealable plastic baggie or another container that can closed and disposed of. Once the worm is safely inside the container, it’s time to destroy it safely. There are several things that kill hammerhead worms. You can pour some salt, vinegar or both into the baggie to kill the worm. Citrus oil is also effective in killing this invasive species.
After you have successfully killed the worm with salt, vinegar or citrus oil, you can place it in the freezer, still inside the baggie or container. Leave the worm there for a period of time to ensure it has been completely destroyed. After a couple of days, you can throw away the container holding the worm into the trash.
If you have any further questions about how to get rid of hammerhead worms, you can reach out to a licensed pest control professional. A specialist can also help you identify it if you aren’t sure whether you’ve found a hammerhead worm or something else.
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