Shell Games

Invasive Slimy Worm Threatens World’s Escargot Supply

Ruuuuuuuunn!! Photo: Shutterstock

Workers in Normandy were recently thrown for a loop when they spotted a weird and unsightly black- and olive-colored worm hanging out in local botanical gardens. After alerting authorities and running some DNA tests, little guy was confirmed to be a New Guinea flatworm, also known as a snail-eating flatworm, and, well, you know what they say: For every New Guinea flatworm you can see, there are at least 50 more New Guinea flatworms hiding behind the bushes.

For snails, this is very bad news. Snail diversity almost matches arthropod diversity throughout the world — Discover puts the number at hundreds in France alone — and, well, apparently Platydemus manokwari eats ‘em all (slugs and earthworms, too, possibly as an afterthought). Because it’s tenacious and has no natural predators, this worm is particularly invasive. These worms, which tend to be about two inches long, obviously have no legs, but can wriggle up tree trunks. Because worms can survive cold weather, overall European invasion potential here is high. Escargot with herb and garlic butter is on the line, globally.

“All snails in Europe could be wiped out,” Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle tells the site. “It may seem ironic, but it’s worth pointing out the effect that this will have on French cooking.”

Escargot Could Follow the Dodo, Scientists Warn [Discover]

Invasive Slimy Worm Threatens World’s Escargot Supply