How to Prevent and Get Rid of Dolichoplana in Your Garden - No Plant No Life

Sunday, July 7, 2024

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Dolichoplana in Your Garden

Dolichoplana, also known as predatory land flatworms, are a group of invasive species that can wreak havoc on your garden. 

These flatworms are often introduced through the trade of plants and soil and can quickly establish themselves in new environments. 

Once established, they prey on beneficial soil organisms like earthworms, disrupting the ecological balance of your garden. 

This comprehensive guide will help you understand how to identify, prevent, and eliminate Dolichoplana from your garden to ensure a healthy and thriving ecosystem.

What is Dolichoplana?

Dolichoplana is a genus of terrestrial flatworms, known for their elongated bodies and predatory nature. 

They are typically dark in color, ranging from brown to black, and can grow up to several centimeters in length. 

These flatworms are particularly notorious for preying on earthworms, which are essential for soil health and fertility.


Identifying Dolichoplana in your garden is the first step in managing them. Here are some key characteristics to look for:

1. Body Shape and Color: Dolichoplana has an elongated, flattened body that is usually dark brown or black.

2. Movement: These flatworms move in a gliding manner, often leaving a slimy trail behind.

3. Habitat: They are usually found in moist, shaded areas, often under rocks, logs, or leaf litter.

4. Feeding Habits: Dolichoplana is a predator of earthworms and other small soil organisms. 

If you notice a decline in your earthworm population, it could be a sign of flatworm presence.


Preventing Dolichoplana from entering your garden is crucial. 

Here are some effective strategies to keep these invasive flatworms at bay:

1. Inspect Plants and Soil

When purchasing new plants or soil, always inspect them for signs of flatworms. Look for slimy trails or the flatworms themselves. 

It’s essential to be cautious, especially when acquiring plants from areas known to have Dolichoplana infestations.

2. Quarantine New Plants

Before introducing new plants to your garden, quarantine them for a few weeks in a separate area. 

This allows you to monitor for any signs of flatworms and take action if needed.

3. Maintain Garden Hygiene

Regularly clean up debris, fallen leaves, and other organic matter from your garden. 

Flatworms thrive in moist, shaded environments, so keeping your garden clean and dry reduces their hiding spots.

4. Encourage Natural Predators

Certain animals, such as birds and beetles, prey on flatworms. 

By creating a garden environment that attracts these natural predators, you can help control the flatworm population.

5. Mulching

Using organic mulch can help maintain soil moisture and temperature, but it can also provide a habitat for flatworms. 

Be mindful of this and regularly check your mulch for any signs of flatworm activity.

Detection and Monitoring

Even with preventative measures, it’s essential to regularly monitor your garden for any signs of Dolichoplana. 

Here are some tips for effective detection:

1. Nighttime Inspections

Flatworms are nocturnal, making nighttime the best time to inspect your garden. Use a flashlight to check under rocks, logs, and other shaded areas where flatworms may hide.

2. Traps

Set up flatworm traps using moist pieces of cardboard or wooden boards. Place these traps in your garden overnight and check them in the morning for any flatworms.

3. Soil Health Monitoring

Regularly monitor the health of your soil and earthworm population. A sudden decline in earthworms can indicate the presence of predatory flatworms.

Immediate Actions Upon Detection

If you detect Dolichoplana in your garden, it’s crucial to take immediate action to prevent their spread. Here’s what you should do:

1. Manual Removal

Carefully remove any flatworms you find by hand. Use gloves and place the flatworms in a sealed plastic bag. 

Dispose of the bag in the trash to prevent the flatworms from escaping.

2. Hot Water Treatment

For areas heavily infested with flatworms, consider using hot water to kill them. Boil water and pour it over the infested area. 

Be cautious when using this method, as hot water can also harm beneficial soil organisms and plants.

3. Salt

Sprinkling salt directly on flatworms can kill them. However, use this method sparingly, as excessive salt can harm your soil and plants.

4. Chemical Control

In severe infestations, chemical control may be necessary. 

Use pesticides specifically designed for flatworms, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Be aware that chemical treatments can also harm beneficial insects and soil organisms.

Long-term Management

Managing Dolichoplana requires a long-term commitment to maintaining garden health and monitoring for any signs of flatworm activity. 

Here are some strategies for long-term management:

1. Soil Health

Promote healthy soil by regularly adding organic matter, such as compost, to your garden. 

Healthy soil supports a diverse ecosystem of beneficial organisms that can help control flatworm populations.

2. Crop Rotation

Rotate your crops regularly to prevent flatworms from establishing themselves in one area. 

Different crops can attract different predators and disrupt the life cycle of flatworms.

3. Natural Barriers

Create natural barriers around your garden to deter flatworms. 

This can include using diatomaceous earth, which is abrasive to flatworms, or creating a dry moat with sand or gravel.

4. Regular Inspections

Continue to inspect your garden regularly for any signs of flatworms. 

Early detection is key to preventing infestations from becoming severe.

What Not to Do

While there are many effective strategies for managing Dolichoplana, there are also some actions you should avoid:

1. Do Not Use Excessive Chemicals

Overuse of chemical pesticides can harm your garden’s ecosystem, killing beneficial insects and soil organisms. 

Always use chemicals as a last resort and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

2. Do Not Ignore the Problem

Ignoring a flatworm infestation will only allow it to worsen. Take immediate action upon detection to prevent flatworms from spreading and causing more damage.

3. Do Not Introduce Non-native Species

Introducing non-native predators to control flatworms can create new ecological problems. 

Stick to natural methods and encourage local predators to help manage flatworm populations.

4. Do Not Overwater

Flatworms thrive in moist environments. Avoid overwatering your garden and ensure proper drainage to reduce the habitat for flatworms.


Managing Dolichoplana in your garden requires vigilance, preventive measures, and immediate action upon detection. 

By understanding how to identify these predatory flatworms, implementing effective prevention strategies, and taking decisive action when necessary, you can protect your garden from the detrimental effects of Dolichoplana. 


What are the key signs of a Dolichoplana infestation in my garden?

Look for elongated, dark flatworms gliding in moist, shaded areas, and a noticeable decline in earthworm populations.

How can I prevent Dolichoplana from entering my garden?

Inspect new plants and soil, quarantine new additions, maintain garden hygiene, and encourage natural predators.

What should I do if I find Dolichoplana in my garden?

Manually remove them, use hot water or salt treatments, and consider chemical controls if necessary.

Can chemical pesticides harm my garden's ecosystem?

Yes, excessive use of chemicals can harm beneficial insects and soil organisms. Use them as a last resort and follow instructions carefully.

How can I promote long-term management of Dolichoplana in my garden?

Maintain healthy soil with organic matter, rotate crops, create natural barriers, and conduct regular inspections for early detection.

No comments:

Post a Comment