HC Deb 05 April 1990 vol 170 c808W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has as to the spread of arthioposthia triangulata on the British mainland and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry

The Planarian can grow up to 15 cm long and weigh 2 g. It is found under stones and dead wood on the soil surface where it rests between feeds on its earthworm prey. The Planarian attaches itself to a worm and moves up the body until its mouth comes into contact with worm tissue. It releases digestive juices which dissolve the worm. The Planarian can then suck up this earthworm "soup". A whole worm can be completely eaten in 30 minutes.

In Northern Ireland the Planarian has apparently wiped out a normal earthworm population in a field which the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland had been monitoring. This is abnormal. The Planarian would appear to co-exist happily with earthworms in southern Scotland.

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