Argentina’s carnivorous worm covers 75% of continental France

A carnivorous worm native to Argentina now covers 75 percent of mainland France and could have an equally large presence in the United Kingdom.

The viscous brown earthworm, Obama nungara, was accidentally imported from South America and devours local wildlife, including earthworms and snails.

It has been registered in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom and is now present in 72 of the 96 French metropolitan districts, an area that represents three quarters of the country.

The worm grows to almost three inches long and has hundreds of small eyes throughout its entire body.

The video images show him wrapping around a sad snail and feeding on his flesh.

Scroll down to watch the video

Argentine carnivorous worm feeding on an earthworm. reduce the number of earthworms in the United Kingdom by up to 20 percent

Argentine carnivorous worm feeding on an earthworm. reduce the number of earthworms in the United Kingdom by up to 20 percent

The large citizen science project, the first of its kind centered on O. nungara, returned a heat map for the prevalence of species in continental France

The large citizen science project, the first of its kind centered on O. nungara, returned a heat map for the prevalence of species in continental France

The large citizen science project, the first of its kind centered on O. nungara, returned a heat map for the prevalence of species in continental France

The species is also especially abundant along the Atlantic coast, from the Spanish border to Brittany in northwestern France, as well as the Mediterranean cost.

The fact that it has spread rapidly throughout France adds to the fears that it has already crossed the English Channel in numbers.

O. nungara it is the most threatening species of all invasive worms present in Europe, "said lead professor Jean-Lou Justine, a zoologist at the Natural History Museum in Paris.

‘To date, the presence of Obama nungara It has occasionally been registered in several European countries, including Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium.

‘However, in none of these countries has the scope of the appearance of O. nungara been done

‘The extensive distribution of the species and its reported local abundance, combined with its predatory nature, make O. nungara a potential threat to biodiversity and soil ecology in Europe. "

Obama will never kill and feed on a snail, showing pigment on each side of the pale back

Obama will never kill and feed on a snail, showing pigment on each side of the pale back

Obama will never kill and feed on a snail, showing pigment on each side of the pale back

The research team made use of "citizen science", observations of amateur scientists, to collect data from across the country on the whereabouts of the plague in France.

In total, they compiled 530 verified records received from 2013 to 2018.

The results show that the species is now present in 72 of the 96 departments of metropolitan France, or 75 percent of the country.

"The local abundance can be impressive, with 100 of the specimens found in a small garden," the research team said.

This specimen shows pronounced "tiger stripes". Specimen of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in southeastern France

This specimen shows pronounced "tiger stripes". Specimen of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in southeastern France

This specimen shows pronounced "tiger stripes". Specimen of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in southeastern France

The worm was first seen in Europe in Guernsey in 2008, but it has spread throughout France and Spain and has also been confirmed in the United Kingdom since its first sighting in 2009.

According to 2016 reports, an Argentine worm The specimen was found in a garden center in Oxfordshire on a plant that had been imported from the Netherlands.

Since then, it has been found in at least two other garden centers and once in a private garden in Britain, suggesting that it is gaining ground in the country.

However, the researchers warned that mentions of the flat worm in the media produced bursts of new findings, which may or may not have been authentic.

Researchers expect your article, published in Mate J, will encourage new records of the Argentine worm of members of the public in other European countries.

Earthworms are essential to keep the soil healthy, both in gardens and in crops for agriculture.

The worms help turn the soil, knocking down the organic matter from the top and mixing it with the soil underneath, helping to feed the healthy growth of the plants.

Its loss would make the soil less fertile and more prone to flooding, since worms that dig holes help with drainage.

Issue of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in south-eastern France showing a pale or frontal ventral side

Issue of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in south-eastern France showing a pale or frontal ventral side

Issue of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Maritime Alps in south-eastern France showing a pale or frontal ventral side

the O. nungara The invasion is driven by international trade in plants, as adult worms and buds can easily travel in pots.

The Buglife charity has said that there are 18 other species of flat worms that are sweeping Europe and lax controls on border imports mean that they could easily spread to the United Kingdom.

Few controls take place in the soil that surrounds the roots of plants, in search of eggs or insects that hibernate in the soil.

From above O. nungara It is a bright golden or dark brown color but its lower part has a creamy white or gray color.

It has been suggested O. nungara will reduce the number of earthworms in the United Kingdom by up to 20%, judging from the experience with the New Zealand invasive earthworm in the last 50 years.

Obama nungara of Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes, dark anterior area near the head showing his tiny eyes

Obama nungara of Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes, dark anterior area near the head showing his tiny eyes

Obama nungara of Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes, dark anterior area near the head showing his tiny eyes

The worm of New Zealand (Arthurdendyus triangula) first appeared in the United Kingdom in 1963.

It feeds on European earthworms and can grow up to 6.5 inches long, twice as much as the Argentine earthworm.

O. nungara It also has populations in Brazil that has not reached Europe

"Argentina is the only source of this invasive species in Europe," said Professor Justine.

WHEN WAS OBAMA NUNGARA FOUND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN EUROPE?

Guernsey Island – 2008

Continental United Kingdom – 2009

Spain – 2010

Portugal – N / A

Metropolitan France (excluding the island of Corsica) – 2013

Corsica – 2013

Italy – 2012

Switzerland – 2014

Ireland – 2009

Madeira Island – 2018

Netherlands – 2016

Belgium – 2017

(The actual presence of the species may be earlier than the mentioned year).

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