Wanted! Nature lovers to join the hunt for the killer flatworm
From Faith Pring
Community scientists at the University of Nottingham are calling for people all over the Midlands to help them hunt for an alien invader which is preying on the UK’s native population of earthworms.
The New Zealand Flatworm was accidentally introduced to the UK in plant imports in the 1960's. The worm preys on the native earthworms which keep our soil healthy and has been found all over Scotland and the North and, since the 1990's, has been spreading south.
Now scientists at the University of Nottingham are inviting gardeners and nature lovers across the Midlands counties and East Anglia to be their eyes on the ground as part of the national Open Air Laboratories Programme (OPAL). They are trying to find out how far the flatworm has reached across the UK and to catch them before they seriously affect our native earthworm population.
The two-year national survey started in 2015 but needs more people in Midlands counties, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire to take part to build a fuller national picture of the flatworm’s spread.