Watch out, gardeners: Invasive jumping worms reported in 34 states

Plant lovers, beware: Invasive jumping worms could be wiggling around in a garden near you.

Worms that jump? They’re out there! And, unfortunately, they’re eating part of the forest ecosystem—the top layer of...

Posted by U.S. Forest Service on Friday, April 22, 2022

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According to WGN-TV, the brown or gray leaping earthworms, which have a white band around their bodies and can reach half a foot long, are originally from eastern Asia but have been spotted in at least 34 U.S. states. Since they first arrived here in the early 19th century, they have spread to the Southeast, Eastern Seaboard, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and parts of the Northwest, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County reported.

So what’s the problem? The fast-growing, hungry creatures reproduce without mating and enjoy munching on soil’s nutrient-rich top layer, according to WKRC.

“Asian jumping worms devour organic matter more rapidly than their European counterparts, stripping the forest of the layer critical for seedlings and wildflowers,” the extension service said on its website. “Jumping worms grow twice as fast, reproduce more quickly, and can infest soils at high densities. In areas of heavy infestation, native plants, soil invertebrates, salamanders, birds and other animals may decline. These invasive worms can severely damage the roots of plants in nurseries, gardens, forests and turf. They, along with other invasive worms, can also help spread invasive plant species by disturbing the soil.”

If you find a jumping worm in your garden, the extension service said you should first put it inside a bag.

“Leave out in the sun for at least 10 minutes, then throw the bag away,” the extension service wrote.

Learn more about the worms from the U.S. Forest Service or by visiting the extension’s website.