The flatworm, Phagocata woodworthi, is native to North America and is thought to have been transported to Loch Ness on the unwashed equipment of monster hunters in the late 1970s. It’s now present in the Loch in large numbers where it preys upon other invertebrates and out-competes our native flatworm species.
Phagocata woodworthi © Stephen Luk
That the Loch Ness flatworm survived the long journey from North America (probably in the cocoon stage) is testament to the tenacity of these invasive species which makes them so successful. One of our more recent arrivals, the Killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) can survive up to 15 days on damp waders - more than enough time for it to be carried from one end of the UK to the other.
Sadly many more of these international hitchhikers have unwittingly been transported across the world to the UK. It’s not only monster hunters that can spread non-native species. Dinghy sailors, windsurfers, anglers, wild swimmers, even dog walkers that let their furry friends swim in ponds and rivers can all cause the spread of these non-native species.
Fortunately there is some good advice to prevent the spread of invasive non-native species.
By following these simple guidelines you can help avoid being the next person to unleash a monster into the British countryside.
Learn more about how to prevent the spread of non-native species at http://www.nonnativespecies.org/elearning/ then test your biosecurity knowledge at https://openeducation.blackboard.com/mooc-catalog/...
Craig Macadam, Conservation Director, Buglife
The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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