NOONDAY, Texas (KETK) — An invasive species called hammerhead flatworms are found in several areas in Texas and have been a cause for concern for some residents, but experts say there is no reason to panic.

Rachelle Helms lives in Noonday and while gardening in her yard she came across something unusual.

“I saw something moving, I thought it was a worm and then I saw the head on it and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s one of those I’ve been seeing on Facebook.’ So that’s when I put the pot down and got the little bin so I could collect it,” said Rachelle Helms, Noonday resident.

She found a hammerhead flatworm in her yard. Now, she is worried to let her dog outside.

“I don’t like them being toxic, I have a little dog and she loves to lick everything and so I don’t want her to get sick and die,” said Helms.

Helms had heard the worm was highly toxic to pets, but the Texas Invasive Species Institute says that’s not completely true.

“It’ll make your animals feel sick for a day or two, it doesn’t cause anything more severe than that,” said Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Director of Research and Education at Texas Invasive Species Institute.

The worms are also not harmful to people unless you are allergic, then you may have a reaction like you would with poison ivy. Texas A&M AgriLife said they may not be toxic to you but they still wouldn’t recommend you touch them.

“Trying not to touch them with your hands, I would just get some like forceps or something,” said Bryant McDowell, Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Hammerhead flatworm

Experts say if you do come in contact with the hammerhead flatworm to wash your hands immediately and get rid of it. You can seal it in a bag with salt, or spray it with vinegar but never cut it in half.

“They will regenerate so you can just end up creating more creatures instead of less,” said Morgan-Olvera.

We may not hear about the hammerhead flatworm often but they have been known to be in northern, central and eastern Texas since 1901.

“The fact that they’ve been here for so long and we really haven’t seen any sort of negative impacts yet, I would say no that there is no worry,” McDowell said.

If you find a hammerhead worm, let someone know, send a picture and the place you found it to Texas A&M AgriLife or the Texas Invasive Species Institute so they can keep track of the population.