Feeds

Voracious alien flatworm hits French in the escargots

New Guineans' European invasion set alarm bells ringing

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Scientists across la Manche have warned that "the time for action is now" following the first discovery on European soil of an alien flatworm immigrant with a voracious appetite for snails.

Several New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) were spotted in a hothouse in the Jardin des Plantes, in Caen, and subsequently dispatched to the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris for analysis.

Boffins led by the museum's Jean-Lou Justine subjected the creatures to DNA testing, which confirmed their worst fears - that the beast on the "100 World's Worst Invader Alien Species" list had indeed landed in France, marking "a significant extension of distribution of this Invasive Alien Species from the Indo-Pacific region to Europe".

Platydemus manokwari

Waiter! I'll have a plate of escargot.... Image of Platydemus manokwari by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

Originally from the mountains of New Guinea, Platydemus manokwari has been "accidentally introduced, probably together with plants and soil, to various islands in the Pacific region including Australia, Guam, Palau, Hawaii, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, and Samoa".

Scientists believe that 10°C is the "possible threshold temperature" for the flatworm to gain a foothold in a new territory, and that accordingly "low winter temperatures may have restricted the invasion and establishment of P manokwari in temperate countries".

However, the researchers doomwatch: "Were P manokwari introduced to temperate countries and escape hothouse or similar containment, the flatworm may well survive winters and become established.

"The flatworm has survived in the hothouse at Caen, and it is expected that it would also survive outdoors in this region, and even more easily in more southern part of Europe."

Mercifully, there is hope of containing the menace before it makes short work of the gastropod foundation on which French cuisine rests. The flatworms "appear to be incapable of travelling long distances on their own", and depend on "transport of infected plants and soil".

A New Guinea flatworm devours a snail

Delicious. I'll have a small cognac and the bill, please. Pic: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle

The scientists suggest the first line of defence is to contain the Caen incursion by "the eradication of the flatworm in its locality, tightening of internal quarantine measures to prevent further spread of the flatworm to and from this site, identifying if possible the likely primary source of the flatworm, and tracing other possible incursions that may have resulted from accidental dispersal of plants and soil from the site".*

Among the foreign flatworms which have already colonised parts of Europe is the New Zealand flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulatus). This was first spotted in Northern Ireland, and has since spread to Scotland and parts of Northern England. It has a penchant for earthworms, leading to fears it might have a serious effect on soil quality. ®

Bootnote

*Or, in summary, "take off and nuke the entire site from orbit".

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.