Wild ropeworms have been found in greenhouses in Amsterdam and Amersfoort. This EIS Insect Knowledge Center report Nature today. The worm species does not occur naturally in the Netherlands and ended up here through the potted plant trade. And farmers are certainly not happy about it: worms feed on earthworms, which are crucial to soil quality.
Wild ropeworm: how to recognize it
The earthworm found in greenhouses in Amsterdam and Amersfoort is the milky-white landnemerten (Leptonomertis calicophora). This carnivorous animal has a soft body and moves along mud roads. In 2022, cord worm was found in our country for the first time. Most chordates (Nemertea) are aquatic. Only fifteen species are known to live on Earth. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the ropeworm is considered an exotic species. They prefer to live in damp places in greenhouses or gardens.
You can identify a wild ropeworm by its proboscis located on the front of the body. They can shoot to catch prey or to quickly pull themselves up. Their diet consists of earthworms. This causes problems, because earthworms are true waste processors: they eat dead plant remains and excrete them as nutrients for plants. If there are too many earthworms in the soil, it has a negative effect on soil fertility.
Do you see a wild cordworm? take a picture
Since little research has been done on wild cordworms, it is very likely that they are actually found in more places in the Low Countries. The EIS Insect Knowledge Center therefore invites you to take a photo and send it to Waarneming.nl when you find one.
Do you want to make them happier? Then you can also save the worms found so that a specialist can examine them. You can keep them alive for a few days in a closed container with some leaves or damp tissue, and make an appointment via [email protected] to hand in the worm.
Flor writes evidence-based articles about training, (mental) health, and sexuality for Women's Health and Runner's World. In her free time, she likes to go out into nature to swim, run or mountain bike.
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