World’s Escargot Supply Endangered by Worm Invasion

An invasive flatworm species from Southeast Asia threatens Europe's snail population and the future of culinary snails

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Without swift intervention, an invasive flatworm might eat all of France's escargot.

According to Discovery News, workers in Normandy, France recently noticed a “strange, dark, flat-as-a-pancake worm amongst their greenhouse plants” and turned to French scientists to confirm that the slimy creature was a member of an incredibly invasive worm species from Southeast Asia, with a penchant for eating snails, or escargot if you’re feeling fancy.

The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus Manokwari) is already listed as one of the world’s 100 most dangerous invasive species, and has the potential to wipe out the entire snail population of Europe. A related creature, the New Zealand flatworm, is responsible for significantly reducing the earthworm population of the northern British Isles, whose presence is a key component of healthy soil.

The New Guinea flatworm has no natural predators and a seemingly insatiable appetite for snails, of which there are several hundred species in France alone. The flatworm is fond of all of them, and poses a serious threat to one of France’s signature foods. 

“It may seem ironic, but it’s worth pointing out the effect that this will have on French cooking,” a representative for France's National Museum of Natural History told Discovery News.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

 

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