A foot-long creature resembling a snake showed up in Midlothian, Virginia recently, and wildlife experts were initially puzzled.
Pest control service Virginia Wildlife Management and Control said in a Facebook post that it had received a call about a strange type of snake, Fox 29 reports.
Weirder Than a Snake
“The problem is, we’ve never seen anything like it before, and we’re not sure if it’s a freak of nature,” they wrote in the post. The post has since been removed, according to Fox 29.
But the company eventually figured out what the creature was: a hammerhead worm. The worms are an invasive species that originate in Southeast Asia.
Hammerhead worms are a “voracious, top-level predator,” according to the Daily Journal. They mostly go after earthworms. They also sometimes target slugs.
However, a hammerhead worm “will eat anything in its path.”
University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Kelly McGowan told the Journal. The worms do not pose a threat to humans.
Invasive Species in Virginia
Hammerhead worms supposedly made it to the U.S. in the soil of potted nursery plants. Gardeners have figured out to heat soil to 93 degrees for five minutes to kill them.
The worms have proven difficult to kill because when cut in half, both pieces stay alive and keep growing – which is why some have called them practically immortal. But experts also recommend pouring salt or orange essence over them to kill them.
The worms are drawn to hot, humid places. They are relatively rare in Virginia. But according to Fox 29, a second resident said she’d seen one once.
And a 14-inch long hammerhead worm appeared in Virginia Beach in 2013, the Virginian-Pilot reported back then.
Per Fox 29, they’ve shown up in 17 other states. They’ve also cropped up around greenhouses in multiple places.