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    December 2008
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Just Butt Ugly or Bipalium Kewense

I went outside just a few moments ago and I saw this worm that I keep seeing around our house.  It’s got to be the ugliest damn worm I’ve ever seen.


It’s kind of tough to see in this picture, however, I wanted to show how long the worm was.  It was literally about 8 inches long.

I’ve seen them quite a bit on the Big Island.  I don’t recall seeing them ever on the mainland.

Here is a close up of the above picture:


I googled “Flat Head Worm” and the first picture that showed up was a picture from a website that used to be on Hunter Bishop’s blogroll, “Hawaiian Highlands” and there at the very bottom of the page was an explanation of what the worm was:

This is a shovel-headed garden worm, Bipalium kewense


“…Shovel-headed garden worms are carnivorous and eat earthworms, insects, slugs and snails. Strangely they can reproduce two ways: 1) asexually through fission where the tail falls off and grows its own head, or 2) sexually with another shovel-headed worm. An even stranger fact is that these worms eat and poop out the same hole which is located in the mid-section of its underside; according to Tbear that makes them “potty mouths.” Supposedly these flat-head worms are harmless to humans, but they can decimate earthworm populations, and that’s not so good.” HawaiianHighlands

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40 Responses

  1. We have the hammer head flat worm on our property. We have seen them try to eat regular worms. Really gross. – While we spray bleach on them and they melt and die, does anyone know of other means to kill them?

  2. Gross.. I just saw TWO on my sidewalk and porch and I have lived here all my life and never seen anything like this…Don’t want them eating my earthworms but snails and slugs? Go for it!! Winston-Salem NC

  3. The pictures are just looking as gross as it is in reality about worms but when you really touch them it’s not that sticky or gross as it seems.

  4. I just killed one in the backyard in Central Alabama…YUCK—I thought it was a leach…

    • I live in Sacramento CA woke up this morning to find one wiggling its way to back door. nasty lil thing about 8in. long.

  5. I found one under my house in Charlotte, nc. From the above comments, I believe they spread by mail.

  6. these are very cool but i don’t want one sucking my blood

  7. Found one in our garden adjacent to the koi pond.We live in Alberton, South Africa. Not sure if this is indiginous to our country?

  8. Hey, I found this page from the name of the worm. I’m in Hawaii and I’ve found a couple of these on my front porch. Both were more than a foot long. I sent some pics to the Bishop Museum “ask a scientist” website and got an identification. Check it out:


  9. I don’t think they are gross looking at all! Certainly no more than an earthworm. I live in San Mateo, CA and I always thought these guys were leeches. Guess I was wrong. I’ve never seen one over 5 inches long (that’s what SHE said!! Sorry…just too easy (that’s what SHE said!!) Oh, no…stop me!!) on the sidewalk when the grass has been watered or rained upon. Most interesting and again, not gross, at least to me (that’s what SHE…..well, you get the picture)! haha!!

  10. I live in Aiken SC one of these worms was on my driveway! So glad i found out what kind it is.

  11. I saw one of these strange worms at the bamboo farm in Sarasota, Florida yesterday

  12. I just found one in Palos Verdes, CA. I have never seen something so gross!

    • about three weeks ago I found a smallish one (3-4 in) of these on my dogs poop one morning and it freaked me out. I search everywhere for dog parasites and couldn’t find anything that looked like this.

      This morning I found two long ones approx. 9 inches on my wood deck. It was right after sunrise and the deck it was damp. I too live in Houston. I hate that they are harmful to earthworms as I have a worm compost – need to check to make sure those slimy little guys haven’t found the buffet.

      I have lived in my home for 21 years and garden often but have never seen this worm until the past couple of weeks.
      My intentions were to thin out the worm in the compost this spring but will not do that until I learn more.

  13. I forgot to add I live in Longview , Texas

  14. I just found one of these roundworms crawling up my window. I have pictures of it. My cat was trying to get it, I want to know is it harmful to pets if they eat it. It was streched out and was 13 to 14 inches long. I read about the person finding it in their bed that the dog brought it in, if it had been me I would be on a parasite cleanse big time I’m so fanatic about the things, not thinking the dog brought it in.

  15. I just found this one in my garage, it was crawling around in some damp towels in the laundry hamper. i thought it was just snot until it started moving. I’d never seen one before and ive been in Florida 14 years.

  16. One morning, I saw a flat head worm on my driveway. We have had slugs coming out at night, so I guess it was there to eat the slugs. I have lived in Georgia all of my life and have never seen these creatures. Between the fire ants and now these disgusting worms, Georgia is going to the CREATURES!!!!

  17. Found one in Moulton, Alabama last night, Aug. 20,2009

    • Found shovel-head on my morning walk, never saw one before, 2miles north of Raleigh-Durham airport. Pretty gross, but way cool in motion.Raleigh, NC

  18. just found one on my walk with my dog in Newport Beach, CA.

  19. I spotted one of these this morning in Cary, North Carolina on the front walk.

  20. I just spotted several of these in my flowerbed while checking on the slug bait I jput out tonight. I’m having a terrible slug problem! While shining my flashlight on those nasty creatures, I spotted this incredibly long, skinny worm with a flat head. I have lived in Georgia all my life and have worked in gardens just about that long and I’ve never seen a shovel-headed garden worm! But now that I know it eats slugs… it makes perfect sense! But I’m not happy about them eating my earth worms! Seems you can’t win for losing sometimes…
    Thanks for the info!

  21. …dude, ain’t no one gonna send a stranger, let alone their own mother no damned worm in the mail.

    that’s just outta control…

    …whats the postage on a worm anyway?

  22. Guys,
    I just had an encounter with one of these “flathead” worms. It was so odd, my poodle had just came in from outside handling business and he was laying on the bed, I left the room for a sec and when I came back there was this slimy gross weird looking worm. From what I have read on the net, they are not harmful. It freaked me out, I guess he rode inside the house on Trevie. I checked my dog all over, and there are no open sores and he is not bleeding from anywhere. If anyone knows if it could be harmful to my pet of family, please let me know. I put him in a tupperware container to take to the vet in the am.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Brittany,
      I just had a similar experience, I went to pick up my dogs poop, and picked up this worm with it. I freaked out because I thought maybe it had come from her bowels, it is sitting in a tupperware right now! From what I have found online it doesnt seem to have come from her, it must have been on the ground where she went potty. What did you find out? I am a bit worried even with the info I have found that it still could have come from her or could be hurting her. Thanks, Sarah

      • I live in California, and the ground was damp as well.

        • What did your vet say? MY dog coughed up a live one last night!!! I took it to the vet and they said they would look into it but that he probably tried to eat it and then coughed it right back up. But ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww, I have the heebie jeebies!!

  23. Hi,

    We have a couple of these worms living in the front garden of our house in Miami, FL. I’ve never seen one before, I knew I’d find the answer on google. Does anyone know if they are harmful to pets? I have a cat that will eat anything that crawls on the floor, I’m concerned if the worms gets inside our house. Thank u in advance!

  24. I just found one on my driveway in Jacksonville, NC

  25. Hey I just brought one of the guys in from my backyard. He is about 8 inches in length and quite active. I have found 4 of them today while trying to control my slug problem. I am located about 30 minutes south of Longview.

  26. Yep Orchid… that looks like what I got around here.

  27. I just found one today and took it’s picture =) Never saw one of these before.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/37564124@N03/3458824256/

  28. I spotted one last week crawling across a sidewalk, amid a lot of damp landscaping in central Houston, Texas. After a bit of research, I identified the species. They are evidently common in the southern US, although the number of reports appears to have increased in the past couple of years, so perhaps their numbers are on the rise.

    Bruce in Ohio, if I can collect a living specimen, I’ll post back here for you, and we can see about transferring it to you.

  29. I just saw one of these is Brisbane, Australia

  30. FYI, I believe these can also be carriers of the rat lungworm parasite, altho I’m not sure how much they frequent lettuce or other garden items.

  31. hey me and my friend just saw one of those worms. do you know if they are commom in Lousiana?

  32. Hello,
    Been trying to find one of these critters. If you find another one, any chance I can get ya to send one to me ?? I”m in Ohio….. give a shout if that is a possibility. . Thank you in advance.. Bruce

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