Add this to the list of creepy crawly things we hope to never encounter: There is an invasive species of worm that calls Tennessee home and not only is it cannibalistic, but it's also coated in a neurotoxin and can grow to more than a foot long.

Invasive Hammerhead Worms

The scientific name of the invasive species is Bipalium kewense, but it is more commonly known as a hammerhead worm or a shovelhead worm. There are at least 15 species of Hammerhead worms and they are terrible for the ecosystem, poisonous to animals, and virtually indestructible.

Hammerhead Worms Found in 30 States Including Tennessee

Hammerhead worms were first introduced in America in the early 1900s, and have been found in as many as 30 states, including Tennessee. The ground-dwelling creatures are terrible for our ecosystem as they feed off of earthworms. They have a flattened appearance and a half-circle-shaped head that looks like a shovel.

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Bipalium kewense is believed to be native to Southeast Asia, but currently is found worldwide. It has been reported on all seven continents aside from Antarctica. It was probably introduced by international plant trade, as it is frequently found associated with plant pots. -

Hammerhead Worms Secrete a Neurotoxin

Hammerhead worms secrete a dangerous neurotoxin, known as tetrodotoxin, to protect themselves from predators. If ingested by a household pet, it could cause nausea and vomiting. It is not recommended that humans pick them up or touch them with their bare hands either as the neurotoxin can cause skin irritation.

attachment-Tennessee Hammerhead Worms

Hammerhead Worms Can Regenerate

Ridding your property or garden of hammerhead worms can be quite a challenge. They can reproduce through what is called "asexual fragmentation." This means they will shed pieces of their body that will then regenerate and grow a new head. So if you were to cut one hammerhead worm in half, in a few weeks you would have two hammerhead worms.

How to Destroy Hammerhead Worms

The best way to rid yourself of hammerhead worms is to "dissolve" them, according to experts. Much like you would sprinkle salt on a slug, the same technique applies to a hammerhead worm. Vinegar is also said to work well for eradicating them but again, be sure they are kept whole so they are not able to regenerate.

[Source: National Geographic;]

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Tennessee

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Tennessee using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.



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