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Correct identification of non-native flatworms important

News | Published:

NON-NATIVE flatworms have been sighted and photographed locally by amateur entomologist and wildlife photographer Andy Marquis.

Members of the public were asked to look for invasive flatworms and report any possible sightings to the Guernsey Biological Record Centre.

Invasive flatworms pose a threat to local wildlife.

Mr Marquis, who works with La Societe Guernesiaise in his spare time, said: ‘A targeted search in my own garden quickly found several specimens. I hope others will try this as well and report back with their findings to help build a local distribution picture.’

Correct identification is important to avoid furthering environmental imbalance.

‘A few native species are not bad for Guernsey and look quite similar so we don’t want anyone mistakenly killing something native.’

Finding flatworms can be easy if following the right advice.

‘They can look quite small at first when they are flat, but can change shape quite quickly as they stretch their bodies out.

‘I am generally finding them when looking for other things, my main targets being pseudoscorpions, woodlice and other under-recorded invertebrates.

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‘They are relatively easy to find if they are present at a location, especially with the very wet weather we have had the last few months.’

Flatworms generally occupy moist soil habitats.

‘They are normally found underground where they hunt things like earthworms.

‘The wet weather seems to have pushed many creatures up to the surface where they will hide underneath anything in contact with or close to bare soil.’

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Reproductive functions are dissimilar to mammals.

‘The life cycle is quite different. They reproduce mostly by fission- worms breaking in two and both parts regenerating into whole worms. Most species are also hermaphroditic.’

If flatworms are found in any gardens, report sightings and take informative photographs.

‘If anyone finds one they should take some photographs, as clear and close as they can from the side and above and send them to the GBRC with location information.’

Help to identify findings is available.

‘People are also welcome to post any finds on the Guernsey Wildlife Facebook Group where someone will be able to assist with identification.’

Emily Hubert

By Emily Hubert
News reporter

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