THE invasive jumping worm is spreading across several states in the US and the “hungry” snake-like species is causing major headaches.
“It only takes one to create a new invasion,” the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association said, warning of the invertebrates.
The creatures have spread along the East Coast, Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and some northwestern states, according to Cornell University.
Smithsonian Magazine reported that they had spread to at least 15 states last year.
Why are these worms such a big deal? They’re a type of earthworm that “can gobble up organic matter more quickly … and erode the forest layer crucial for seedlings and wildflowers,” Cornell said.
The worms of the genus Amynthas – also known as snakeworms and Alabama jumpers – are extremely invasive.
The animals are native to East Asia and resemble the common earthworm, but are smaller and brown, and grow to five inches in length.
They have earned the nickname “crazy worm” because they tend to thrash violently when picked up, sometimes jumping out of hands.
Wrigglers have even been known to shed their own tails in a desperate bid to escape their captors’ predators.
Scientists picked up the worms first Wisconsin in 2013, although they are thought to have been introduced as fishing bait in the 19th century.
The worms are gray and brown and can be identified by the white band encircling their bodies. Cornell warned that they grow extremely fast, up to six inches, and “can infest high-density soil.”
“In areas of high infestation, native plants, soil invertebrates, salamanders, birds and other animals may decline,” the university said. “These invasive worms can severely damage the roots of plants in nurseries, gardens, forests and on lawns.”
The worms die every winter, but their eggs can survive the cold because they are hidden in cocoons. The eggs will hatch when it gets about 50 degrees outside, according to the University of Maryland.
“They can outstrip the existing worm population,” Cornell said.
The cocoons are tiny and barely visible to the naked eye. Because of this, they are easily spreadable.
If you find crazy worms in your garden, the best thing to do is put them in a plastic bag and leave them in the sun for 10 minutes.
Illinois University agriculture and natural resources expert Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle writes on her blog: “Removing adult jumping worms to reduce the number of egg shells produced is currently the best control available.
“Adults who are put in plastic bags and left in the sun die quickly. Dispose of the bag in the trash.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5052313/invasive-jumping-worms-spread-united-states/ “Ravenous” invasive jumping worms, capable of reproducing without a mate, are spreading across several states