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Sellers of plants should warn public of dangers of contaminated garden matter with Australian Flat Worm

category national | environment | press release author Sunday May 03, 2020 22:40author by foie Report this post to the editors

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 3rd May 2020

Invasive Australian flatworm reaches west Cork
Sellers of plants should warn public of dangers of contaminated garden matter

The invasive Australian flatworm has reached the Beara peninsula in west Cork. Flatworms from New Zealand were first recorded in Ireland in the 1960’s but the Australian flatworm was not recorded until 1981.

Flatworms are top-level predators of soil organisms. They eat earthworms and appear to have met no natural enemies of their own in Ireland. According to the National Biodiversity Centre, the implications of its indefinite spread for the drainage and fertility of our soil ‘pose a threat to Ireland’s biodiversity and economy’. Japanese knotweed and the zebra mussels are examples of invasive species now out of control in Ireland.

PRESS RELEASE
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT
SUNDAY 3 MAY 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Invasive Australian flatworm reaches west Cork
Sellers of plants should warn public of dangers of contaminated garden matter

The invasive Australian flatworm has reached the Beara peninsula in west Cork. Flatworms from New Zealand were first recorded in Ireland in the 1960’s but the Australian flatworm was not recorded until 1981.

Flatworms are top-level predators of soil organisms. They eat earthworms and appear to have met no natural enemies of their own in Ireland. According to the National Biodiversity Centre, the implications of its indefinite spread for the drainage and fertility of our soil ‘pose a threat to Ireland’s biodiversity and economy’. Japanese knotweed and the zebra mussels are examples of invasive species now out of control in Ireland.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre urges gardeners to be vigilant when transplanting plants purchased from outlets, as contaminated garden matter is the primary source of the spread of the species.

While the New Zealand flatworm is now widespread across the island of Ireland, the Australian flatworm found in west Cork is only the 33rd record nationally. It was found in the garden beside the offices of Friends of the Irish Environment, who are located at the end of the Beara peninsula near the village of Eyeries.

‘Regularly checking for and removing of the flatworms from under pots, stones, logs etc. in your garden is the best way to try and control their numbers’, advises FIE’s Caroline Lewis, who made the discovery and has registered it with the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Invasive Species database.

‘Where containers stand on black polythene or capillary matting, frequently check the underside of the polythene or matting for flatworms. Like slugs, flatworms adhere to the underside of the pots.’

‘Many people are working in their gardens under the current conditions and this is a prime time of year for these invasive pests. While ultimately elimination of any invasive species is challenging, it is important that we track their progress and do all we can to protect our own earthworms because of their vital role in soil fertility.’

‘Trapping them by laying out black plastic on the ground with weights on edge to keep down and checking periodically under that is also possible. Many websites advise on different ways to kill the flatworms. They may simply be put into hot water or placed in a sealed container and put in the freezer.’

‘DIY stores now supply an equal share of the market with garden centres while supermarkets also play a role in the spread of invasive species. All outlets should have sanitation measures and regular monitoring in place to prevent further transmissions as well as warning signs alerting gardeners to the possible presence of contaminated material.’

European Union legislation listed the New Zealand flatworm on its invasive species legislation in 2019. In the United Kingdom it is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to knowingly distribute either the New Zealand or the Australian flatworm, but no such legislation exists in Ireland to date.

ENDS

Contact: 353 (0)87 2176316

Australian flatworms have an elongate, strap-like body. The eyes are absent or minute and arranged along the body margins in a single row from along the body. Charles Darwin wrote that ‘In general form they resemble little slugs, but are very much narrower in proportion, and several of the species are beautifully coloured with longitudinal stripes’. Photographs are available on the National Biodiversity Centre’s website.

See:
https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/invasive-species/
Artioposthia triangulate – New Zealand
Australoplana sanguinea – Australia
EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation 1143/2014

Copyright © 2020 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved.
Press Release

Our mailing address is:
Friends of the Irish Environment
Kilcatherine
Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53
Ireland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17795-invasive-australian-flatworm-reaches-west-cork

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   UPDATE: Radio appeal for ‘Citizens Science’ to address earthworm loss     foie    Sat May 09, 2020 01:09 


 
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