Thursday, 21 August 2014

A flat worm

During the eight weeks we've been away from home the weeds in our garden have flourished but an hour or two restored order. The soil is beautifully damp and friable, many of the plants in the garden are flowering, the sun was shining and there was no wind. We really enjoyed working in our garden today. I don't know what my friends have been complaining about :) They say it's been a dreadful winter here while we've been away but today it was perfect.

Flat Worm
When I turned over a block of wood I found a little creature that also enjoys the damp friable soil. It's a flat worm. When I first saw it it was about two centimetres long and quite fat, like a slug. I could also see two feelers like a slug but, of course, after I went to get the camera they were tucked away again. As soon as it was exposed to the light the worm started to stretch and move across the wood to find a dark place of shelter. As it stretched out to about ten centimetres the flatness became less obvious.

Worms aint just worms. There are flat worms, round worms and ringed worms (like the common earth worm). My flat worm (or slime worm), is a terrestrial planarian - there are many more planarians that live in the sea - and its mouth is on the underside of its body. There are quite a few different species of planarian in Australia including some introduced species that have probably hitched a ride on potplants. They come in a variety of colours and are carnivorous, venturing out at night to feed on earth worms and slugs . They are also hermaphrodites and can also reproduce asexually.

This flat worm is possibly Australoplana sanguinea, the same flat worm that has been discovered in southern England and Ireland in the last decade or so, introduced from eastern Australia.


yamdaisy said...

Hi< Whilst you were holidaying, I found one of the same species between my wormfarm lid and the plastic waterproof bag I use so the worms don't drown when it rains. Geelong West. Regards, Helen S.

Jared said...

I found one today in my garden in Huntingdale, Melbourne.

Anonymous said...

I've found a number of these creatures today in Oberon, N.S.W. 2787 and I wanted to find out about them myself and Google brought up your blog and pictures. Good on you to teach us something new about Australia. All the best, George