Got Worms? UMass Amherst Extension Has Resources to Help with Invasive Jumping Worms
They go by many names: jumping worms, crazy worms, snake worms and Alabama jumpers. These common names refer to earthworms in the genus Amynthas, which are native to Asia. Whatever you call them, unlike species such as the common nightcrawler, these jumping worms may have different, and possibly detrimental impacts on the environment, and are being increasingly reported in gardens, lawns, farms and forests across the Commonwealth.
What is the Problem?
Jumping worms alter soil qualities, particularly in forested locations, and may even trigger changes that favor invasive plants in forest understories. Indeed, some of the most significant impacts of these earthworms have been seen in forest ecosystems. The worms have such an impact because they consume the upper organic layer of soil, which leaches away nutrients and can lead to erosion. Unwittingly, humans may spread earthworms without realizing it: jumping worm eggs (which are found in cocoons that are about the size of a mustard seed) or adults may be unwittingly transported when one moves soil, mulch, compost and potted plants from one location to another.
Where Can I Find More Information?
Two new UMass Extension fact sheets answer questions about prevention and spread as well as the biology and identification of these earthworms, and the available options, should you discover these worms on your property. The fact sheets are available here:
- Earthworms in Massachusetts – History, Concerns, and Benefits
- Jumping/Crazy/Snake Worms – Amynthas spp.
How to Become More Informed
UMass Extension's Landscape, Nursery, and Urban Forestry Program is producing a virtual conference on jumping worms, to be held in January 2022. Further details and how to register will soon be listed in the events calendar.