Invasive Jumping Worms Are Spreading
Gardeners and farmers across the Midwest are being put on alert for an invasive species of earthworm which has already made its way into more than a dozen U.S. states.
Known variously as “Asian jumping worms,” “Alabama jumpers,” “crazy worms,” and “snake worms,” these creepy crawly critters thrash about like crazy when touched or held. They can also jump into the air and shed part of their tail to escape capture!
The invasive species is a native of easter Asia, and probably arrived in North America back in the 19th century, hitching a ride surreptitiously along with imported plants. it is reported that the worms can alter the composition of topsoil, decreasing its nutrient value and making it more susceptible to erosion. Thus far, they have been found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Some helpful identification tips can be found here. Scientists recommend the following measures to prevent spread:
- Place any adult worms that you might find in a plastic bag and leave in the sun for at least 10 minutes before throwing in the trash.
- Do not buy jumping worms for use as fishing bait, vermicomposting, or gardening.
- Buy only comopost or organic matter that has been heat treated to at least 104 degrees Farenheit, since the jumping worm eggs cannot survive under such heat.