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How to detect and remove invasive jumping worms

Remove invasive jumping worms

This garden pest certainly makes a name for itself - many. Depending on where you are and who you are talking to, you may hear it called "crazy snake worm", "Alabama jumping worm", "Asian snake worm" or some other name, but these all refer to earthworms. 

Native to East Asia, the Amindas earthworm is an invasive pest of the northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern United States. They like to live in moist leaves and soils high in organic matter, so they are commonly found in gardens, mulched areas, low-temperature composting, irrigation yards, and fields and forests. Areas with very sandy or dense clay soils, small organic matter, and arid areas west of rocky outcrops will not be severely affected. But for others, there is reason to worry.

How to detect jumping worms

It is important to correctly identify invasive jumping worms before you start removing them from your yard or garden. Fortunately, Asian jumping worm adults are much easier to distinguish from their harmless European relatives.


The jumping worm has a puffy first cream-colored black body near its head (called the clitellum). Common European earthworms, such as night crawlers, usually (but not always) have dark heads but pale pink bodies and the same color clitellum. In nocturnal crawlers, the clitoris is far from the head and may not fully encircle the body.


Like snakes, Asian jumping worms move on the ground with an intense "S-like" movement. (This is why they are also called snake worms.) A European earthworm moves very slowly; It stretches its head to where it wants to go and then pulls its body to meet it.


Still not sure which worm you are dealing with? Give it a touch. A European earthworm is usually thin to the touch. Asian jumping worms are gentle, but not too thin to the touch, and they live up to their name! When disturbed, these worms roam in large numbers — although they can jump off the ground to distract distractors, they can quickly escape.

Why are jumping worms a problem?

They usually do not cause significant damage to crops or can cause some hydrophobicity in garden soil if these Asian earthworms are present in large numbers in overworked home gardens (they can be the most annoying of all). Most importantly, they disrupt the nutrient balance in the soil over time, and they disrupt the ecosystems of the forest by relocating native organisms and making them less favorable to the topsoil native plants that inhabit them.

These worms reproduce quickly and eat more than most of our familiar European earthworm relatives (such as night crawlers, and Lumbricus rubellus), allowing them to quickly establish themselves in one place as soon as they enter.

How are jumping worms introduced to new areas?

Global trade in plants and plant products is higher than ever. Although regulatory protocols have drastically reduced the introduction of new pests into plants and soils, these efforts have not been foolish. The eggs of jumping worms are very small and capable of surviving frost temperatures (although adults are killed by frost). The eggs of jumping worms may have been accidentally introduced in this way.

Unfortunately, jumping worms are not the only way to bring and move into the United States. People can buy these worms through online sellers claiming they are legal pet food. In addition, jumping worms are sold at bait and tackle shops, where fishermen buy them and then drop the unused adults into suitable habitats near ponds, lakes, and rivers.

How to get rid of jumping worms

While some research is underway to develop biological control and chemical management options, there are currently no legal products in the United States. Once they are created, they will first be available to lawnmowers and golf courses. No chemical management solution is likely to be available to homeowners for at least several years. Control worms using unnamed chemicals or other substances for this purpose Do not try.

The best management approach, for now, is to search frequently for these worms in your yard and garden. They are very easy to spot when they emerge after a good rain. Once you have confirmed that the worms are actually invasive jumping worms, start collecting and disposing of the adults. If you find worm molds (coffee-like droplets on the floor) in your garden but can't find adults, try forcing them to the surface. Mix 1/3 cup ground mustard seeds in a gallon of water and pour over the suspected area. Mustard is an irritating agent and promotes the growth of worms on the surface


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