Hammerhead worms (Bipalium spp.) were introduced into the U.S. in the early 1900s and have likely been in Georgia for several decades. The concern that many have with hammerhead worms is that they feed on earthworms. However, most earthworms in Georgia are introduced species as well. Because hammerhead worms feed on the invasive earthworms such as jumping worms, some believe they should be left alone. For more information on worms, please see this video from Penn State (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8m119EmdDQ).
Key Points about Hammerhead Worms
- Hammerhead worms are present across Georgia and in neighboring states.
- It is not necessary to report sightings to your county extension office, the state extension office or the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
- They are an invasive species that prey on earthworms.
- There is no consensus if you should kill hammerhead worms or leave them alone.
If you find a hammerhead worm and you choose to kill it, there are several options. These include putting them in soapy water that they can’t crawl out of and crushing them to the point where there are no viable segments. Other remedies, such as salt, vinegar solution, or citrus oil also are effective. However, do not chop their bodies. This does not kill them and each piece becomes a new worm.
Interview with Dr. Nancy Hinkle (UGA Veterinary Entomologist, https://www.11alive.com/article/tech/science/environment/toxic-hammerhead-worm-georgia-asian-jumping-worm-invasive/85-a17bbee9-84f2-43a1-badc-3097032c7ef7)
University of Arkansas (see https://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/anr-blog/posts/arkansas-hammerhead-worms.aspx)