- Ravenous jumping worms are spreading across the United States.
- The invasive jumping worms have spread to at least 15 states.
- Experts are warning of the effects of the invasion.
An invasive jumping worm is spreading across several states in the United States and this “ravenous” species is causing major headaches. “It only takes one to create a new invasion,” the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association said in a warning.
Jumping worms can reproduce without a mate, which has caused a lot of concern in states like New York. The Smithsonian Magazine already reported last year that these squirmy invertebrates had spread to at least 15 states in the United States, according to The Sun.
Invasive jumping worms are spreading
Cornell University says the elusive creatures, also known as snake worms, have been found along the East Coast, the Southeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and some northwestern states of the country, according to The Sun.
And why are these jumping worms so important? Well, according to Cornell University, it’s because they are a type of earthworm that can “devour organic matter more quickly… stripping away critical forest cover for seedlings and wildflowers.”
Jumping worms are extremely invasive
These creatures belong to the genus Amynthas. They are also called Alabama jumping worms and are extremely invasive. They are native to East Asia and resemble the common earthworm, but are smaller and browner, growing up to five inches long, The Sun detailed.
These invertebrates have earned the nickname “crazy worms” due to their tendency to thrash violently when grabbed, sometimes jumping out of people’s hands. They have even been known to fling off their own tails in a desperate attempt to evade the clutches of their predators.
When did the worms first arrive?
Jumping worms were first recorded by scientists in Wisconsin in 2013, although they are believed to have been brought in in the 19th century as fishing bait. The worms are gray and brown and can be identified by the white band that circles their bodies, The Sun explained.
Cornell University warned that these jumping worms grow extremely fast, up to six inches, and “can infest soils at high densities.” In turn, the university added: “In areas of heavy infestation, native plants, soil invertebrates, salamanders, birds and other animals may decrease.”
The dangers of jumping worms
Experts from Cornell also warned: “These invasive worms can seriously damage the roots of plants in nurseries, gardens, forests and lawns.” Jumping worms die each winter, but their eggs can survive the cold because they are hidden in cocoons.
The Sun reported that, according to the University of Maryland, the eggs hatch when the temperature reaches around 50 degrees outside. “They can outcompete the existing worm population,” Cornell warned. The cocoons are tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye.
What to do if I get jumping worms?
If you find jumping worms in your backyard, the best thing to do is place them in a plastic bag and leave them out in the sun for 10 minutes, the newspaper noted. Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, an expert in agriculture and natural resources at the University of Illinois, also spoke on the matter.
“Removing adult jumping worms to decrease the number of eggs being produced is the best control available at this time. Adults placed in plastic bags and left in the sun quickly die. Throw the bag in the trash,” the expert wrote on her blog.