A New Parasite in Florida

There is a lot of wildlife here in Florida that you don’t find everywhere else.  Conversely, other places have wildlife that we don’t see here in the Sunshine State.  It’s funny that you get used to whatever lives in the state in which you reside.  For example, California natives probably don’t freak out over bobcats and mountain lions. People from Arizona don’t leave because of rattlesnakes, and people in Alaska don’t leave because of bears. Of course, they are very cautious and know how dangerous they are, but they don’t leave the state because of them.  In the same way, Floridians don’t panic over our alligators or panthers.


All states are also subject to a variety of insects and creepy-crawlies.  We have a plethora of little things crawling around that we could step on if we aren’t careful.  Lizards and geckos abound, and cockroaches love it here.  There are also spiders, centipedes, and recently a foreign flatworm.  Yes, now is the time to say, “Ewww…”  In the last few years a slimy, little fellow has arrived in Florida and goes by the name New Guinea flatworm.


These flatworms may have arrived via imported fruits and plants.  They harm and kill our native plants, trees, and even small creatures that live here.  There have been about three dozen reports of these flatworms in Brevard County.  It has spread to more than thirty-five counties in Florida.  They can reproduce without a mate which is a downside, allowing their population to grow more rapidly than an animal requiring a mate.


These flatworms can produce toxic secretions, so it is advised not to touch them bare-handed.  It can also carry the rat lungworm parasite which can cause potentially fatal meningitis in people.  Overall, it is better not to handle these flatworms.  They love humidity which makes Florida a good environment for them, unfortunately.  An excellent way to get rid of these flatworms is by pouring hot water on them that is at least 109.4 degrees.  This will kill the flatworm without harming other insects or plants.


While it is pretty difficult to keep such a small creature out of your realm of existence, it is not impossible to keep animals larger than a flatworm out of your yard!  If you are interested in a fence company to help keep unwanted wildlife from your yard, please give us a call at Tripod Aluminum.  We install beautiful screened enclosures, “Florida rooms,” and aluminum fencing for your yard.  Check out our website to see some examples of what we can do for you.  If you live in the Melbourne, Palm Bay, or Cocoa areas let us build the screened in porch or install the fencing that you have been wanting and needing.  We look forward to doing business with you!

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