A local man who was cleaning a water gully at his house recently made a fascinating discovery!
“I came across a creature that I had never seen before…I thought I had discovered a new Irish species” Padraig Harlow of Convent Road, Roscommon quipped this week.
Padraig contacted Teagasc in Roscommon to show them what he had found. He was referred on to a Mr. Gaffney in the Teagasc Research Centre in Ashtown, Dublin.
“I sent him the specimen and researched other images on the Internet myself. We agreed it was the New Zealand flatworm, an invasive species, brought in through Britain via Belfast to Ireland and which is making its way south towards Sligo.
“They are hermaphrodites (meaning all ‘individuals’ can reproduce) so they could self-fertilise, but would normally pair up…they are predators and feed on earthworms which are important to our ecosystem and fertility of the soil, among other aspects”.
Padraig said that while he doesn’t want to be alarmist, they are a threat for gardeners, farmers, etc. He advised that all garden centres should be on the look-out.
“They should be destroyed and not mistaken for the earthworms which are native and very beneficial” he concluded.