I was personally exploring the live fauna of San Antonio, Texas a few months ago, digging through the mulch around a garden bed, I discovered what I thought was a slime trail – from a presumably safe, friendly, slug. I’ve seen slugs before and felt no danger and was interested in seeing if I could identify and find it, so I searched around through, and through until I found the source of the slime trail. But it was not what I was expecting.
The HammerHead Worm
At first sight, it appeared this was just a normal slug on a piece of organic wood mulch, perhaps hiding from me. But when I looked closer, I realized, this was no slug. This thing looked like a parasite, a dangerous critter, so I avoided touching it and captured it for further research. Upon further research, we learned, this was a Hammerhead Worm.
Upon reading further about this interesting new species, one that I had never seen through my years of gardening, this was no normal slug-like species, this was a vicious predator, one that was fond of worms specifically. As a grower of red wiggler worms, this worried me, especially that I was finding one in Texas so close.
A Predator Unheard Of
This particular species was new to America, well relatively new, especially to Texas, in fact, this decade has seen the first reports of any hammerhead species in Texas, before 2010 this species was practically unheard of.
This vicious predator leaves a poisonous slime that paralyzes its victims, this poison is more than 50 times as poisonous as cyanide, the same toxin found in pufferfish that kills hundreds of people a year. Tetrodotoxin. A poison with no cure. When it detects a meal (worm) it wraps around it and poisons it further, rendering the worm defenseless, it then essentially sucks the life-force out of the worm (the guts and insides of the worm) until it is stuffed and the worm lay lifeless.
As Large As A Snake
As I was picking up the Hammerhead Worm to enclose it in a mason jar, it began freaking out, it stretched out over 9 inches, becoming skinny but extremely long, I realized during my research what I had was a baby Hammerhead Worm, these things grow the size of snakes, the species I captured was one of the largest found, growing nearly a foot long, and a few inches wide. Extremely large in my opinion.
The Hammerhead Worm has no lifespan, it can not age, and it reproduces asexually, meaning when it is scared enough, or decides to reproduce, it splits into 2-4 entirely separate Hammerhead Worms. These things live forever essentially. Obviously, they can be killed, but underground with essentially no predators throughout most of America, these big guys will continue to spread and wreak havoc on the American earthworm, and red wiggler population. In fact according to a few scientist’s predictions, if the trend of Hammerhead worm sightings continues, the red wiggler population throughout America will be mostly extinct in two decades. This is a prediction, but perhaps they are wrong, and predators will learn to eat the Hammerhead Worms they encounter.
The Hammerhead Worm is scary, but I’m sure it’ll be fine, nature tends to work itself out. But releasing, raising, and maintaining worms naturally outdoors can help keep the populations of worms in America thriving, and through that, I guarantee the red wiggler will never go extinct, because we care, and we know lots of others care.
Of course, that is also a prediction, anything can happen, and reports of Hammerhead Worms sure are growing, and I mean fast. Hammerhead Worms can now be found almost everywhere in America.