Invasive flatworm threatens native snail fauna on Bonaire: Urgent call for preventive measures

The flatworm is considered one of the most harmful invasive species in the world. Photo's: Sylvia van Leeuwen and Shinji Sugiura

KRALENDIJK – During the relay expedition conducted by Naturalis and STINAPA on Bonaire, the invasive New Guinean flatworm was found in two locations on the island. 

The presence of this species is concerning, as it is considered one of the 100 most harmful invasive species globally by the IUCN. “It is an efficient predator and poses a serious threat to native snails,” says STINAPA. 

The Snail Team, during a study on invertebrates on Bonaire, identified the flatworm as the Platydemus manokwari. The worm tracks the slime trails of snails, threatening them by invading and feeding on their internal organs. 

According to Sytske de Waart and Sylvia van Leeuwen from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, it is crucial to take preventive measures. “This worm has seriously impacted snail populations on other islands. It is therefore crucial to take preventive measures to avoid further spread of the worm on Bonaire.” 


The flatworm was discovered in and around garden centers and likely entered the island through imported garden plants.

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