The Australian Flatworm was first sighted in the British Isles on the Isles of Scilly in 1980. Since then they have been taken to mainland Britain, at first mainly in southern England, but their progression has continued northward and to Ireland where they began their invasion in the southern counties. The specimen pictured here was found in a potted plant purchased at a plant sale at Cultra, in North Down, Northern Ireland in October 2007. This is the main means of their transmission around the country, if it had been within the compost and not stuck to the inside of the pot, then it would probably have not been found.
Like the New Zealand Flatworm they feed on the native earthworms so pose a similar threat. They are more easily spotted due to the bright colour – here a bright coral, but they can be cream or peach. The underside is slightly paler. They are smaller than the New Zealand form, with a typical length while moving of about 35 to 40mm – when resting they contract lengthwise and are thicker as seen with the picture of the upturned worm below.
There are no chemical treatments which can be used without damaging the other soil fauna. Care must be taken when bringing plants into the garden and retailers have a duty of care to ensure that their stock is free from nasty surprises.