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Tina’s Hoax?

August 1, 2019

Tina is the local creative artist, flower arranger extraordinaire and style icon for vintage clothes. She works in the local garden supplies centre and as such frequently comes across weird and wonderful fauna amongst the pots and plants. The latest is this beauty (pictured below). On first appearances it looks like a candy-cane coloured slug. It is in fact a flatworm, a Howitt’s Flatworm (Artioposthia howitti) to be exact.

Flatworms are one of the most primitive lifeforms. They have no body cavity and hence lack organs for breathing and circulation. Oxygen instead enters the body by diffusion. This limits the size that flatworms can attain and creates a body shape with a large surface area i.e. flat. They are also the ultimate regenerator. Cutting a piece off will result in a new flatworm.

Superficially they look a bit like leeches but do not loop up when moving. Like slugs and snails flatworms move on a slime track. They are predators. Some trap small invertebrates in their slime trail. The insides of the victim are then sucked out. As they also have no anus waste products and undigested food are expelled through the mouth (talk about ‘potty mouth’!)

It’s all very interesting but beware. Knowing Tina’s sense of the mischievous and her artistic talent it would not surprise me if a search of the garden centre turned up some very thin brushes, pots of yellow and brown paint and a very annoyed ordinary garden slug (painted).

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