Jumping Worms: The Creepy, Damaging Invasive You Don’t Know

Photo © Susan Day / UW Madison Arboretum

Disturb a jumping worm and it’s like a nightcrawler on steroids: It violently writhes on the forest floor, recalling a snake in a bad horror movie. Try to catch it, a piece of its tail will detach in your hand — still wriggling as you hold it.

But put aside the creepy factor: jumping worms may be the next big threat to northern forests.

Jumping worms, consisting of various non-native species from multiple genera, have become established in a number of eastern and southeastern states. In 2013, species from the genus Amynthas were confirmed for the first time in the Upper Midwest, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

In the forests and prairies of the Upper Midwest, the jumping worm could significantly alter habitats and decrease biodiversity. Why are they so damaging? And is there anything we can do to stop them?

Why Much of What You Know About Earthworms is Wrong

You probably learned about the wonders of earthworms at an early age. They aerate the soil. They help your garden grow. And they catch fish. The humble earthworm is a creature to celebrate.

Photo © Susan Day / UW Madison Arboretum
Photo © Susan Day / UW Madison Arboretum

Overlooked in all this earthworm love is an important fact: in a significant portion of the North American continent, no native earthworms have existed since before the Ice Age. As such, forests and other habitats have evolved without them.

But people love earthworms. They indeed use them by the millions for fishing, and for composting, and to help gardens grow. And so the worms have been spread far and wide. Even areas with native earthworms have largely been taken over by non-native varieties. The common nightcrawler — familiar to anyone who has ever cast a bobber and hook — is a European species.

Earthworms have also spread into the northern habitats where worms have been absent for thousands of years. The hype is true: earthworms cycle through a lot of refuse, and fundamentally change the soil. This may be good in your backyard garden plot, but it’s not in the northern forest.

“Earthworms change the environment to suit their needs,” says Brad Herrick, ecologist and research program program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. “When they are introduced, they make a host of physical, chemical and biological changes to the soil environment.”

Essentially, worms turn the forest floor — a complex community of plants, invertebrates and microbes – into a completely different habitat.

The jumping worm, if established in the Upper Midwest, brings new threats. “We think the changes to native habitats will be similar to other earthworms but even more dynamic,” says Herrick.

Spread of the Jumping Worm

You probably think of earthworms as living underground. But the jumping worm actually lives in the topmost layer of the forest floor — amongst the fallen leaves and other material that cover the soil. It eats that fallen organic material. And that’s the problem.

That leaf litter provides essential nutrients to the forest. Trees need long-lasting sources of nutrients. When jumping worms quickly turn leaves into very loose soil (resembling coffee grounds), they deprive trees of essential nutrients.

They thus can inhibit the establishment of tree seedlings. The altered soil is inhospitable to many  native plant species. And that soil also disrupts the relationships between fungi and trees.

In short, the jumping worm could have profound effects on the overall forest ecosystem.

As with so many invasive species, they’re adaptable and difficult to stop. They’re parthenogenetic: they can reproduce without fertilization. The introduction of a single individual is enough to launch a jumping worm invasion.

The worms have an annual life cycle. They die in the fall, but leave tiny cocoons that spend the winter in the soil.

And they can be spread readily by human habits. Take their preferred habitat of fallen leaves. At this time of year, many people are raking leaves into a pile and setting them by the road to be picked up or converted into mulch. The worms — or their cocoons — are thus transported to new habitats. Compost and potted plants can also move the worms around.

“Unfortunately at this time, there are no good control measures,” says Herrick. “The important thing now is to the stop the spread. Everyone can help.”

Stop the Jumping Worm

Herrick and other conservationists agree that prevention is the most effective tactic. If you live in the Upper Midwest, and see a writhing, snake-like earthworm in your backyard, report it to your state natural resources department. (In Wisconsin, you can email invasive.species@wi.gov  to report sightings).

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also has a handy identification card to help you distinguish the jumping worm from the common nightcrawler.

Wisconsin DNR also suggests examining potted plants and gardening and landscaping materials for the presence of jumping worms. If you are doing landscaping and gardening work, be sure to clean your equipment and clothing to prevent transporting cocoons.

And if you buy compost, only buy from sources that heat the compost at appropriate temperatures and duration to kill pathogens.

The jumping worm is not yet established in much of the northern United States. The time is now to keep it from becoming the next invasive species horror story.

Join the Discussion

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  1. Great reporting and keep up the good work. We need more reports like these that are science-based. It does make me wonder what the next ecological horror will be.

    1. Then perhaps you might consider that you are not paying close enough attention to give a darn about the future of forests? The natural world is complex and nuanced. We need to understand that to save ourselves.

  2. Listen, you may be right about this worm but I am WAY more worried about Trump’s impact on the environment just now! Thanks you the interesting info though!

    1. I hear you! But please, take a deep breath and go outside…refuse to let the politics intervene with good work you can do in your own back yard 🙂 Good luck…I wake up in the AM feeling like I have an elephant sitting on my chest…oh wait, I do!

  3. It would be great to know what nematodes and viruses are possible controls.
    We have serious invasive slug problems too, and many of them eat duff and seedlings. They too might be controlled with nematodes.

  4. I had a horrific experience with these worms a few years ago in Florida. My husband and I returned from a trip and found a terrible stench in the house when we entered into it again. I followed the smell and thousands of these worms were hanging from the sliding door frames and writhing on the patio and had entered through the tracks of the sliders into the house. It was a horror movie!! I callled everyone I could think of to help, even the police. No one had ever heard if a similar event. Our house was on a large property adjacent to a golf course, lots of acreage and soil all around our home. No one came to help. My husband and I had to overcome our revulsion and nausea and sprayed the worms pesticides and 409 and had to hose them off the sliding doors and tracks and tile stone floor in the living room and outside on the patio. My poor husband used a shovel to place them in plastic bags and sealed those and disposed of them. They never appeared again after that , but it was a nightmarish experience.

  5. Can these worms live in an environment where we may not get a hard freeze for a couple of years, like here in the Pacific Northwest? Where did these worms originate?

  6. I deliberately placed worms in my earth 30 years ago because of poor soil, now it is richer and turned dark. Everything grows better.

    1. There are about 2,700 species of earthworms, each of which is evolved to live in a specific place, with its own parasites and predators. Pick one up and plop it down somewhere else and it has the potential to act as a disease with no checks. Without the population controls where it came from, there is nothing to keep the population from being a problem. This is why invasive species are such so difficult and expensive to deal with…oh and the is that problem when people don’t understand the impacts of what they are doing…like the person who introduced English sparrows, or the road engineer who thought Rosa multiflora would be good along the road sides.

      1. I think you may mean European Starlings not sparrows, but maybe sparrows are also an issue.
        Or European(aka”Himalayan”) blackberry brambles, basically they have overwhelmed and destroyed every unmanaged open space in lowland western Washington, property owners have mostly given up since the state noxious weed department not only stopped fining landowners(or even taking care of their own lands) and allowed the seed-banks to explode exponentially but even allows dishonest nurseries to sell the plants.
        The wild butternut is under threat both from disease and hybridizing with some imported asian nut.
        then you have the imported softshell clams(not even good to eat) displacing all the natives, feral(and domestic) cats are a problem world wide, Holly bushes, english ivy, morning glory, escaped “atlantic salmon”, and many more
        The problem will just get worse with people trading plants on ebay.
        I really think that bothering to slow the spread of something as established as these worms is a wasted effort, in a case like this any solution that doesn’t completely wipe them out and check new importation is totally futile. (It is plausible in some cases, malaria was eliminated from the mainland USA some decades ago with mosquito controls.)

        1. House sparrows are, in fact, even more invasive than Starlings. Earl Shields, in his excellent book “Raising Earthworms for fun & profit” has a famous chart of how fast earthworms reproduce & could spread. He also points out that they generally don’t.

  7. I have learned so much from reading from your blog. I find the more I learn the more I want to learn about the interesting, exciting, and concerning environmental issues that affect our world. Thank you so much because I want to know even more.

    1. I have the same question
      Red wigglers were given to me by gardening program for use in a worm bin. Some have escaped into my garden.

      1. Ditto me. I’ve been looking everywhere to see what makes these worms different & worse than your standard manure worm, & nobody seems to have an answer. I’d also be interested to know if there’s any evidence that these worms actly do kill forests, or whether we’re just worried that they could. Any good studies using good scientific methods that I could read? TY.

  8. Are there any native predators that would be effective in controlling spread of the Jumping Worm?

  9. I live in Virginia. Are there reports off jumping worms here? Where may I gol for information?

  10. According to the Wisconsin DNR these worms are native to SE Asia. Great article, but I was itchin’ to find out where they came from.

    1. Thanks for saving some of us the time and contributing to the conversation in a constructive way.

  11. I am part of a conservation and restoration group here in Oregon, and I see how damaging this could be. Thank you for this information!

  12. Unfortunately, I met the jumping worm late this summer. I was turning over my “working” compost pile and discovered a large number of hyperactive worms writhing around. I live on the east side of Madison, WI. I’m not sure what the method of their introduction to my property was, but I have now found them in one of my raised beds. They have also spread to my other two finished compost piles. I tried black plastic bagging them in the sun for several weeks, but it did not kill them. And of course, there’s the cocoons still in the soil. I hope researchers come up with a remedy for these pests. These are not the worms we’re used to!

  13. We recently discovered these near our home in Northern California. They are clearly different from the typical worms we have seen here before, and can jump up to two inches if touched in attempts to move them.

  14. I noticed many garden snacks in my garden during summer time , but i also noticed this gum- pin worm
    in late October . Thanks for art. and info. this was unpleasant to see this ,I will give them sugar with baking soda on start.

  15. I hope the invasive group will address the ongoing feral/roaming cat problem, if they haven’t already, and how Trap-Neuter-ReIMPOSE programs don’t work.

    1. First, my thanks go to the author for the heads-up on the worms, another gift from Asia (here in western NY we’re in the hot zone of Emerald Ash Borer, another gift from that part of the world).

      And yes, Maja, I would like to see free-roaming cats officially classified as “invasive” so proper control (i.e. removal) can be implemented. The fact that this hasn’t occurred is because it’s a political hot-potato. Don’t hold your breath.

  16. Why is this a problem now. Where are they native to.They will most likely not survive due to the millions of gallons of Roundup sprayed on our plants and leaves.

  17. Things have gotten so out of hand with so many non native species in various parts of the United States. It is hard to keep track of them all. Now there’s the threat of jumping worms.

  18. Maybe we should allow burning of leaves again. Would that help destroy the worms?

  19. yea so if I see it what do I do with it? report it I will for sure But how do I rid myself of it in the mean time?

  20. Thanks Matt for the heads up. It appears prevention of disease in any life cycle is the first step.

  21. In NJ, I’ve come across worms that act as “violently” as these but never saw them dislodge a piece of their body and don’t know they are indeed jumping worms. Have they been found in NJ?

  22. Great article Matt,

    Any news if these worms have made there way into Northern Virginia? If so, any way of combating it naturally?

  23. Good reminders for all of us. There are 30,000 invasive species in the U.S.A. causing $148 billion in damages/year. Thank you for the excellent reminders.

  24. Thanks so much! I will share your film with the crew of volunteers that work at my church

  25. Hello Matt,
    This is a new one for me, jumping worms. Thanks for the tip of heated compost. Could we send some to congress and Donald Trump Daily Show? Do you think they could survive his bluster?
    This is a bad time for science and conservation in general with DT in charge. He doesn’t venture into the wilds. But I am glad you do and are walking in Aldo Leopold’s footsteps . I wish you well and hope you continue all you do in good health for all of us.
    Darla Rae Duffy
    Pittsburgh, Pa.

  26. This article was extremely informative. I never knew that worms could be bad for the environment.

  27. Just wondering if there is a plotted map where these things are, and if there are any efforts to control them. I am beginning to realize that “closed systems” with as little input from the outside is the way to go…I still buy plants but not until I am now doing more with seeds. And when I bring a potted plant home, it is only AFTER I have researched its potential invasiveness in my area and three others with the same climate conditions. I remove the dirt before planting the plant, rinse it off in a gravel area, and solarize it (dry as a bone too).

  28. These are being sold on the internet as good vermicomposting worms. What is the difference in a Red Wiggler, African Nightcrawler, or the Alabama Jumper? Can we still use the Red Wigglers for vermicomposting?

  29. Finding this worm in your yard and reporting it is a first step. No one has made any suggestions about how to manage your yard after a positive identification. I am facing this. I would like to know what recommendations there are for pasturizing compost since this will be the vector for spread in my vegetable garden.

    1. Hi Jane, The red worms are definitely different and the EPA is recommending them for composting: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-create-and-maintain-indoor-worm-composting-bin Because of the overlap in common names, I’m not sure about the Alabama Jumper, however, from the description in the link you share, it sounds like they “dig deep”, which is a different behavior than the invasive Asian Jumping Worm that primarily stays near the surface. Thank you!

      1. To learn more about modern worms, read Thomas Barrett & Earl Shields. There are two kinds of vermicomposting worms which come under various brand names, but are all one of these two types: First, the red wiggler/red hybrid/redworm, & host of other commercial brand names are all descendants of Thomas Barrett’s hybrid, & live in manure heaps & compost piles pretty much always within the top four inches. Second, the African nightcrawler, which was bred from large Florida manure worms that look like nightcrawlers, but act like red wigglers, in terms of staying in the top four inches. What these Asian jumping worms are & what precisely is the problem with them is a mystery I seek the answer to & would be grateful for.

  30. Very interesting. I first heard about this worm in a newspaper article earlier this spring. Now I know that the worm I found while digging in .y stones to plant a bush was indeed a red jumping worm.

  31. I think I have a problem in my garden with these worms. I live in NY 50 miles north of Manhattan on a deciduous wooded slopped acre. Ever since I moved into my house, and observed the massive amount of worm castings around my flower beds, it appeared that there was too much worm castings and not enough to hold the soil together. My soil is also dry with shade. How to I identify the worms to know if I have the Asian jumping worm? Thank you.

  32. Just heard a news report that jumping worms were found in the county in which I live in central Wisconsin. There was little information given there but I then found this page. Good information but it needs to be made more public. When our forests are gone they will take more than our lifetime to replace, if possible. I am surprised at the sarcasm and childishness of many of the comments here. One person brought up an idea that I wondered about too; how about burning? Then again, I doubt many people could be trusted to do this in a safe manner, as demonstrated by their responses below. I have been in a battle all summer with Japanese beetles and feel I am losing this important fight, since they will soon dig down into the soil to overwinter. The weather has been cold and in my city, dry as a bone. In early summer we had a terrible storm that destroyed a large number of mature trees throughout the city. The news about jumping worms feels like piling on. I will be waiting to hear of a solution that I can try in my little piece of heaven. It will take a large effort by many people to make a difference. So far there has been no urgency or concern among my neighbors where Japanese beetles are concerned.

  33. I live in Cedarburg, Wisconsin and I have jumping worms, lots of them. I have very nice landscaping and have improved the soil regularly with compost, milorganite and other stuff. When I started seeing these worms, I was happy to have so many worms. Now, not so much. What can I do to stop this invasion? I have been gathering them and killing them, hundreds of them.. Help!!!

  34. I have also found jumping worms in my backyard and would love advice on how to manage them. I can’t get the link to the article mentioned earlier to work. Thanks.

    1. Hi Barb, Advice is usually state dependent, so I recommend either contacting the state wildlife department or a university extension in your area to find out what they recommend. Thank you!

  35. Very interesting. This is the first time I hear of jumping worms! The article says that the worms rob the trees of nutrients by eating the organic matter on the forest floor. However after the death of the worms the minerals are made available to trees.

    1. Hi Emily, It’s best to contact your state wildlife agency to report sightings of jumping worms. Thank you!

  36. I live in upper Bucks county in Pennsylvania. I have these Jumping worms in my manure pile and now spreading to my veggie gardens. For some reason, this year most of my vegetables, are doing poorly and the rest are dead.

  37. I have a serious invasion of these earthworms. My residence is in eastern Pennsylvania.
    Over the past 8 weeks I have picked up ten’s of thousands of them.
    Every morning I fill a 5 gallon bucket 5 inches of the bucket, totally disgusting.
    They love to die in my pool, also disgusting.
    When using a string trimmer, they come out of the graound, crawl over your feet, like something out of a horror movie.
    Sevin seems to kill they, but their is no end in sight.
    Any recommendations are appreciated.
    Thank you,

  38. Has anyone reported these Jumping worms in Texas? I live in the Keller/North Richland Hills area.
    I was doing a test October 7, 2018 to determine if I had sod webworms killing our grass.
    The test was 2 T Dawn to 2 gallons water, pour over an area to see if the worms would surface.
    They did surface, but do not look like the sod webworms on the internet.
    These wiggled and moved around very quickly. There were many of them. One is 6″ long.
    Upon capturing one, I looked online, and found info about an Asian Jumping worm found in Wisconsin and the Maine areas in 2013-2014. The “band” around this worm is not in the middle, but closer to the head.

  39. Hi! I am Kora. I am in 6th grade. I want to know more about these creatures for my conservation speech. Could you possibly get a list to me of some useful facts for my speech?

    Thank you!!
    Kora Zebro

    1. Hi Kora,
      Thanks for your interest. I believe this blog post should contain all the info you need to make a list of cool facts.


  40. Post more pictures and show other species so it’s easier to differentiate them from other worms.

  41. There was a lot written about the consistency of the dirt made/occupied by the jumping in otms, but are their castings not as nutritious for plants as, say, the castings of Red Wiggler worms?

  42. If you have jumping worms will you still have good night crawlers or do the jumping worms destroy the good worms. I have been finding a lot of worms in my compost and in my garden areas. I find it is extremely difficult to tell but based on what I see, I fear I might have them. I find them up at the surface when digging and find some really large ones. It seems like many worms I find don’t really even have the distinguishing band. The bands I am seeing seem to be close to the front and usually whitish in color and the band in flat and not raised. I have noticed they seem to break very easily even when not pulling them out of the ground. They squirm and wiggle a lot when first detected but then lay quietly if left along. If indeed I have jumping worms, I have not done anything with my soil in an area where I think they might be. I had twice shredded pine bark put down 6-7 years ago. However, were they even in the area back then. I certainly did not see any worms in the compost as I was hand spreading 9 cubic yards. I have taken some photos but do not know where to send the information. I live in Illinois. If I do have these worms, will I ever be able to get rid of them? Lots of questions. Thank you.

    1. It sounds like you have them. The are exactly like what I have. I’m in Illinois.

  43. Found them in Omaha , in my friends yard(is this new information)they sure are wigglers, hopefully a weather cycle or some other physical change the landscape will stop them as was with the outbreaks back in the 30 of locust/cicadas.

  44. I fear it is too late. They are well established in NY State now and are spreading rapidly. I suspect ours came in on potted plants and potting soil. The only remedy proposed so far is pretty much scorched earth and kills good worms as well as bad.

    Time to figure out how to get along with them like we have with the rest of the invasives.

  45. Living in NH I have a huge amount of jumping Asian worms, how can I get rid of them before they do more damage ?

  46. Early this spring I planted a large plot of grass in my yard which came in thick and plush. As the summer came on it began to thin and I noticed little piles of the granulated soil described in the article. Had no idea what was happening until I read the article and remembered seeing those exact worms. I live in NE Pennsylvania and they are here! I could not see anything written to control them. Help!

  47. I have recently noticed new patches of brown grass in my lawn that can be scraped up or picked up like a piece of pizza, because the patch is dry and has very shallow (if none at all) roots. I have tired to examine the patches before and after I pick the dead patch up; tiny holes appear on top of the patch and underneath, long slender worms quickly dart into the soil before I can really look at them. I usually see only the end disappearing into the soil. The soil under the patch is dry and has no trace of the grass roots. I am very concerned so have been reading online this week. I had only a few patches a week ago. Today, I have many. I could easily scrape up the dry brown patches and find a square foot of bare soil in every square yard of lawn. All information says these worms are bad……….but don’t really tell me what to do other than try to kill them with rubbing alcohol……..or refrain from using composted soil…..or, or.
    What should I do for my lawn is the real question. The internet has article after article from several institutions but all only discriptive…………..no problem solving. Please direct me to other interested lawn owners who struggle with this problem and want to help solve it!

  48. My house is surrounded by woods where they’ve lived for a while and they migrate from the woods to my backyard. I’ve had them for at least five years and they’ve changed the way I garden. Since they live near the top of the soil they’re attracted to mulch, so I no longer use straw mulch. They destroy the soil and in some places it’s crumbly down 6-8 inches, though mostly the crumbly soil is just closer to the top, 2-3 inches. Where it’s really gotten bad, nothing can grow, at least not from seed. I suppose if you planted something with deep roots it could make it. There seems to be very little interest in or knowledge of this by the landscaping professionals, and very little research money available. A lot of the research that I’m aware of comes out of the University of Vermont but we need major funding for this problem.

  49. I have had these in my Washington Co, MD woods for the last three years. They come to the surface when I pull weeds, and I stomp them, but as has been suggested, you have to make sure the whole body has stopped wiggling.

  50. […] Jumping worms are considered an invasive species for a few different reasons. They blaze through the leaves and detritus on forest floors that would normally lie around for years, feeding the low-light plants that grow beneath the trees. So familiarize yourself with what they look like and their appearance, and make sure you’re not buying a pack of them and introducing them into your garden. […]

  51. I have recently discovered I have jumping worms – bad!!! Have been trying to find a way we
    can irraticate them.. Have heard that Early Bird fertilizer, used on golf courses, does work.
    Also, using Bio Char helps the soil. Are you familiar with these?

    Am trying to call LowerChippewaInvasives Partnership, Kathy Stahl, who seems to find
    ways to get rid of them 90%. Will call her today. Would like to hear what you know about
    them!!! Thank You.

  52. I just read an article on this species of worm in the Chicago Tribune today. So I googled it. Here is my story.I was doing some landscaping in Lake Geneva Wisconsin at my summer home last weekend.I love to fish.So I was saving the worms that I dug up , but they were different. They were extremely wiggly and hard to put in a container. They were firmer than a regular worm and fatter. The bigger ones would break off when handled. And they seemed to be dying in the container the next day. The fish still like them but I through them out after a day or two. It made me wonder about these worms. But after reading this article , I think maybe this is that invasive species of worm. Am I right? Laura Knop

  53. My garden is full of them. Don’t know how they got here. How do you kill them. I tried cutting them in half with my shovel but they are too quick.

  54. Have them in Dixon Il. All over my gardens. Very few regular worms spotted.

  55. I live in central New York. I have just raked a small backyard area and have about thirty of these worms in a bucket. When do they reproduce (leave their cocoons)? If I kill them, can I compost the dead worms?

    1. Hi Nancy,
      If you are finding adults, they are probably already reproducing. I would make sure the worms are indeed dead before composting. Many worms can live even if cut up. Disposal would be a safer option. Thanks for reading. Matt

  56. I learned about the jumping worms just recently on a Facebook article. I live in southern Connecticut and they are all over my acre and one half yard. We also have the Emerald Ash beetle and the Gypsy Moth caterpillar. We have Zebra mussels in the lakes and a blight that is killing hemlock trees. We have invasive Fragmite and a species Pigweed have been spotted in out state. BUT WHAT CAN WE DO??? They are all here and everywhere I look. There are hundreds of dead trees and now the mountain laurel is dying too. The lakes are clogged with Zebra mussels which get into the boat engines and hydro electric dams. They are ruining the eco system in all our waterways. Why are all these invasive things suddenly coming into our country? There seems to be nothing we can effectively do to stop any of this.

  57. I live in ct.these are everywhere when I blow or rake off some leaves you see hundreds of these writhing and twisting around and lots of that coffee grounds looking soil. I’m having a difficult time understanding how this soil isn’t full of nutrients that could be leached down to the roots of trees like maple cherry oak and ash. I have lived here since 1990 and I can assure you that these hardwoods are growing well and looking good. The understory is all non native shrubs like barberry honeysuckle euonymus. And periodic flushes of garlic mustard

  58. I live in central Florida, I am almost positive I found jumping worms. Where can I send you pictures

  59. Instead of using slow release fertilizer this Spring, What can be added to the depleted soil to help the plants? composted manure or mushroom compost?

  60. We added a goodly amount of organic compost to our garden and mulched our flower beds heavily. I noticed as I weeded between landscaping pavers and especially in the newly mulched areas, that the worms were very close to the surface, and at times, I would jump thinking it was a snake, because it would move so quickly. I began to see information too late. I am hoping that I was mistaken. I live in the Catskill Mountains in New York State.

  61. I found this worm in my mulch pile when i was looking for fish worms people knew about the worm but didn’t know anything about it

  62. I believe that I have been startled by these invasive jumping worms. Can you tell me about the appearance of their eggs? Are they tiny, white orbs found not deep underground?
    I live in coastal Massachusetts.
    Thank you, Sandra

  63. Thank you for your helpful info on these invasive worms. I just found that most of my potted plants contain them :(. I am trying to avoid losing all of that soil, though haven’t found a way of treating/saving the soil without throwing away the whole lot of it and starting over. The REAL concerning problem is that I only used purchased soil and that is surely where these worms came from. Now going to have to purchase sterilized soil and amend myself.

  64. My cat has apparently ate some of these jumping worms,
    How do I safely dewormi her with what home remedy if possible8tammisharp

    1. If your cat ate jumping worms, they would die in her digestive system. They are earthworms, not a parasitic species. I would contact a veterinarian if your cat has parasitic worms.

  65. My soul has turn SO soft even in the dry summer moths the lawn mower sinks in the dirt .
    As in your discussion about , soil resembles coffee grinds . Grass has a hard time taking root .
    I’m not sure if the problem is the jumping worms or just common night crawler ? How do you kill off the jumping worm ? I’m from northern NJ .

  66. Matthew,

    I just read your article, but have read others over the past two years. We began seeing what was later identified as Asian Jumping Worms in our front yard in North Richland Hills, Texas in approximately October 2018. I took videos of some as I found them. Each one had the identifying band or collar that goes all the way around it – closer to the head. In the Spring 2019, we took a small pale of about 20 of them to the Agricultural Extension Office in Fort Worth, Texas. They were sent to A & M where a professor positively identified them as Asian Jumping Worms. So, they have migrated South!

  67. Matthew,

    I just read your article, but have read others over the past two years. We began seeing what was later identified as Asian Jumping Worms in our front yard in North Richland Hills, Texas in approximately October 2018. They ate the roots of my St. Augustine grass, killing the whole yard. I took videos of some as I found them. Each one had the identifying band or collar that goes all the way around it – closer to the head. In the Spring 2019, we took a small pale of about 20 of them to the Agricultural Extension Office in Fort Worth, Texas. They were sent to A & M where a professor positively identified them as Asian Jumping Worms. So, they have migrated South!

  68. I live in Lake luzerne N.Y. i found them here 5 years ago was raking leaves etc and when i picked the worm up did the un expected wiggeled and jumped like heck said to my self these arent Nite crawlers !!

  69. Are there any chemical treatments effective against the jumping worms?

  70. Samples dozens of Jumping type worms, taken from my yard in northeast Fort Worth in 2019, were identified by Texas A & M as being the Asian Jumping worms. They had all the identifying marks, and jumping characteristics! Not sure how they got here, but they remain in my neighborhood in 2020! I use Roundup on them.

  71. They seem to die instantly if you put them into a container with rubbing alcohol, but of course that can’t be used in the garden. I’m wondering if spraying the garden with vodka or grain alcohol, turning the soil, then spraying more until all were dead would work. If it does, the alcohol would evaporate pretty quickly, and then I’d water everything so theoretically it shouldn’t hurt the plants. Should this type of alcohol work, would it kill plants, or would it just be a waste of alcohol?

  72. I have to do all my gardening in raised beds and fabric pots. Every time I move a pot, there are a dozen jumping worms under it, so I move the pots around in the garden every few days to collect and destroy. I have a lot fewer worms, now! After the chickens get done scratching around in there, too, I’ve only found 6 worms in the last week!

  73. I fear the jumping worm may be spreading more than the public is aware of. Most people I have spoken to are completely unaware this species even exists . I have learned to see the signs of where the jumping worms reside, as there is little to no undergrowth in the forest floor. I have seen this time and time again, with the undergrowth thickening as the landscape nears water sources as ponds or streams. I would be interested in learning more about this invasive species and how to obtain information that I may share. These worms are a real and serious threat to our forests.

  74. I live in southern Indiana and googled jumping worms because I am freaking out that I have such a worm in my flower beds. I am terrified of them and now know how invasive they can become. How can I destroy them without digging up my whole back yard flower bed?

  75. Help please. Today my friend gave me a dozen fern plants from her shaded and very full foliage area that slopes down to a creek behind her home. She informed me that there were jumping worms in the soil and had reported it to U of MN. She thought perhaps washing off the roots and all soil from the plants would make them safe to plant in my own yard. Is this a safe and good idea or am I simply (foolishly) introducing this invasive worm to my own yard and others nearby? Yes, soils is definitely coffee grounds consistency.?

  76. Well, I don’t quite understand that if they took nutrients from the soil, don’t they return the nutrients back into to soil when they die each season?

  77. I am in Kansas, Missouri and I had found plenty of jumping worms in my yard . What can I do to prevent it more?

  78. Earthworms poop and that enriches garden soil, so why not forest soil. And don’t the jumping worms also leave behind poop? If they eat, they poop. Is there something radically different about jumping worm castings?

  79. Sure glad to find this article. We have the Asian earthworm in Tallahassee Florida. I’ve been treating them as a beneficial ally, now I know the truth. Things are about to change here.

  80. I have worms in my garden that are unusually wiggly. I am in the Hudson valley in New York State.
    Who should I report this to? What should I do?
    Thank you for having a place where I can ask these questions.
    Bob Lavaggi

  81. Robert- I also garden in the Hudson Valley( Saugerties ) and last summer while pulling my garlic I saw them. Margaret Roach had just written an article about them in the NY times so I knew what I was up against.
    I contacted the Ulster Country extension agency and they referred me to the Green County extension agency. They are part of a study with the University of Vermont on the possible efficacy of using alfalfa pellets to dry them up. The worms’ themselves will die off in the winter but they leave their cocoons which will overwinter. Each worm apparently makes 60 worms!! I pulled a lot last year but feared they had already laid their cocoons..
    Needless to say, I have been pulling worms like a cray person ( my once calm, happy place in the garden is now a killing machine!0 We’ve already pulled a 5 gallon bucketful with some assorted dirt mixed in. We put some pellets in the bucket them dump it on a far place in our driveway to solarize them ( a nice way to say…) they do stink for a few days then they decompose.
    I had put the pellets on in the fall and then before winter. Can’t say it really helped but the nitrogen at least was good for the garden!
    I’m hoping that since we got a very early start on them this year and will keep being vigilant( any free time on the weekends- lets go kill some worms!)that we will prevent a massive cocoon laying event…
    good Luck!!

  82. My grandson discovered TWO worms in our organic, fenced-in garden. That was yesterday. I live in southern CT and I’m very disheartened by these creatures. We live one house away from marshes that lead to Long Island Sound. Yet another plague to battle.

  83. I read this article because I found some jump worms I’m my back yard here I’m Massachusetts. Should I be concern? Should I contact someone?

  84. I’ve noticed these worms in my wood chip piles for years and called them “breakers “ because they just break apart when trying to hook them. Now that I’ve starting worm farming and discovered the bad worm I now will collect and try to eliminate what I can! Any advice? Do they have any other use?

  85. I discovered jumping worms in my yard in Jamaica Plain, MA by inspecting the “coffee ground” soil. Every day now I’ve been looking for them, and I can see the damage they do to the plant cover where they are. When I find them I put them in a tub, then cover them with water and a little plant-based dish soap as suggested in a New York Times article. This kills them reliably in several minutes, but there are always more the next day. I don’t know what the solution is.

  86. My large garden is full of them. I had them last year but killed as many as I could by bagging them and putting in sun. I have MORE this year and they are larger. I mulch my own leaves and others. After reading your article I am wondering if mulching was the wrong thing. Should I just use bought bagged mulch? Again I am bagging as many as I can dig up but they have already killed many of my hostas and I do not know how much more. I have spent years building my garden and I am sick like I am sure others are.
    Any ideas would be much appreciated.

  87. I live in Alabama and have spent many years creating a Hosta garden, which has well over fifty different varieties. I discovered Alabama Jumping worms, or Asian Jumping worms, or Snake worms while tending to a part of my Hosta garden. There were absolutely no worms in the garden years ago. I realized where they had come from while transplanting a purchase from a local nursery, I found three large Jumping worms in the container. Previously I would have thought it was an added bonus because worms are beneficial, right? Every year I apply new compost around the Hosta’s and last year they were all doing well and in excellent condition. This year they are being eaten alive by the worms. The dirt is crumbled and resembles something you would see in a horror film for gardeners, there is absolutely no compost left, it has all been consumed along with all of the normal dirt. I spent a lot of money buying dry mustard, believe it was eighteen pounds, from Amazon and Ebay. You mix 1/3 cup of mustard with a gallon of water and pour it on the soil and the worms come up out of the ground. I pulled hundreds, and I mean hundreds of these worms out of the garden area. This works great if you can keep buying the dry mustard. I have since resorted to digging worms most every day but I am losing the battle. The only thing left to do is to dig up what is left of the Hosta’s and plant them in containers, of course after the plants and roots will have to be thoroughly washed to remove any eggs. The problem is now I have to come up with over fifty containers that are large enough to hold each Hosta and of course the potting soil to go into each container. These worms are no joke and will devastate what you have put your blood sweat and tears into and no, all worms are not created equal, these Jumping worms are not normal, they eat, reproduce, and eat some more and will wipe out an entire garden in one summer.
    I have not contacted the nursery because in reality I am too upset and afraid of what I may say and because it is something I should have known and I should have checked for the worms and/or any other invader before planting it in my garden. Had I not experienced what total devastation these worms can and will do, I would have scrolled by this post, read it and kept on going, not retaining or realizing what is really being said. The bad thing is I can’t find any source of information on anything that can be used to get rid of them other than picking them out by hand every day and in the meantime, I know I am losing because the Hosta’s are looking worse every day.
    Old lady digging up worms in dead soil while angrily throwing the huge nasty Snake worms into a metal bucket to bake in the sun, every day.
    Take this information from Matthew very serious, it could change your life.

  88. We have a jumping worm infestation here in western Pennsylvania. We removed a quarter bucket in a small area in our garden yesterday. Please let us know if there is any answer to irradiate these disgusting worms.

  89. I live in central PA and thes worms exist in my yard by the thousands.
    my soil is mostly like coffee grounds.
    I feel the only thing I can do is to make sure I keep adding material to my soil
    I remain very concerned

  90. We have discovered thousands of jumping worms in our flower beds. They were not there, to our knowledge, in the Spring.
    We have 1/2 an acre in Greene County NY.
    What can we do? We are bagging all that we find and putting them in the garbage.

  91. Is there a way to break down the castings of the jumping worm to make
    The soil fertile?

  92. Its a little worm, ohe bad ucd it be, i i mean , he needs some where to go, why cant we let him make his home in our forest, theres plenty of it to go around.

  93. I live in western WV in town and I have these jumping worms in my compost pile. Always had night crawlers and good earthworm population in the soil around my plants. Now these weirdos are taking over. What to do? Thanks.

  94. I have noticed very large worms mostly on top of the ground act aggressively nothing like a regular worm.