Texas woman discovers horde of black worms known to carry dangerous parasite in backyard

A Texas woman made a creepy discovery in her backyard recently when she found a horde of slimy, black worms known to carry a dangerous parasite.

The “strange looking” worms were feeding on snails and inched their way onto the home’s porch, Marranda Ganucheau told KHOU-TV. An investigation online pointed her to the New Guinea flatworm, which was later confirmed by the Texas Invasive Species Institute (TISI).

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The New Guinea flatworm, while not a parasite itself, is known as the host of the Rat Lungworm, a nematode parasite, according to TISI’s website. The parasite originates in rodents and is transferred through the sickened rat's feces, which some snails and worms feed on.

The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) is a species of large predatory land flatworm. (iStock)

The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) is a species of large predatory land flatworm. (iStock)

The parasite could cause eosinophilic meningitis and severe gastrointestinal or central nervous system disease in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts caution people not to touch the worms with their bare hands, and instead use gloves or disposable forceps.

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The species is a nocturnal worm native to New Guinea, according to TISI. They range from 1.6 to 2.6 inches and prey upon snails. It uses a “white pharynx-like feeding tube” to completely drain the snails of fluids.

"When they are crawling their nose points up like a snout - it's like an ant-eater snout," Ganucheau told the Houston Chronicle. "But then when you go to touch them they go flat [and] they almost look like snot.

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The flatworm was discovered in the continental United States in 2015, in Florida, and has since been confirmed in Texas and Puerto Rico, according to TISI.

While the species has no known predators, it’s thought to be susceptible to citrus oil and white vinegar mixtures, salt and slug repellant, experts said.