Help us to find out how far this introduced species of flatworm has spread
The New Zealand Flatworm was introduced into the UK in the 1960s and feeds on earthworms.
We need your help to find out how far this flatworm has spread and what influence it is having on the environment.
How to identify flatworms
The New Zealand Flatworm is a flat, ribbon-like organism, and has a dark purple-brown upper surface with pale margins and a creamy pale underside.
They are usually about 0.3-1cm wide and 5-15 cm long and are pointed at both ends and covered in sticky mucus.
Their egg capsules look like blackcurrants, though smaller, and contain about 7 young flatworms, so it’s important to spot these and not move them to new locations.
Where to find them
New Zealand Flatworms are usually found under pieces of wood, stone or polythene or lying on bare earth often curled up like a Swiss roll. They leave slime circles where they’ve been resting.
New Zealand Flatworms attack earthworms by wrapping their bodies around them and secreting digestive mucus to dissolve them before consuming them.
Amazingly, New Zealand Flatworms can survive for over a year by shrinking in size to as little as 10% of their full-grown body mass until they find another earthworm.
For more information about the ecology, invasion history, distribution and impact of New Zealand Flatworms, download the following resources:
- New Zealand Flatworm Information Sheet (PDF)
- Advice to Gardeners on How to Minimise the Impact of New Zealand Flatworm Leaflet (PDF)
How to take part
While it is hard to control New Zealand Flatworm once present, learning more about their distribution can help target initiatives to prevent further introductions via gardens, soil movement etc.
This is where you come in…
- Step 1 – Download and print the survey postcard.
- Step 2 – Explore your local outdoor space and look for New Zealand Flatworms.
- Step 3 – Tell us what you find using our online survey form.
Note: Your results are important to us even if you didn't find any New Zealand Flatworms.
Enter your results online
Once you've completed the survey, simply submit your results online:
Want to submit a photo?
You can also use the sightings form to submit a photo of the New Zealand Flatworm and its location without entering full survey data.
Problems entering your results online?
Send your results to:
OPAL, Centre for Environmental Policy,
London SW7 2AZ.
Explore results from the OPAL New Zealand Flatworm Survey on an interactive map: