Jumping worms wiggle their way into Maine

European nightcrawler and jumping worm
Amynthas Worm and Nightcrawler, Photo courtesy Wisconsin DNR

Did you know? When threatened, jumping worms thrash wildly from side to side (giving them their nicknames the ‘snake worm’ or the ‘crazy worm’). If their frenzied thrashing isn’t enough to deter a predator, they can break off segments of their tail to escape.

Introduced to North America in the late 1800s, Jumping Worms have recently begun invading natural habitats in the Northeast and Midwest, spreading primarily through horticultural trade. There is also a possibility of their introduction through sale as bait worms, however, this has not yet been documented.

These invasive worms outcompete other earthworms and their castings degrade soil quality, leaving the soil inhospitable to many native plant species and susceptible to erosion.

Jumping Worms are voracious eaters, they quickly consume the top layer of organic material, making it difficult for plants to remain rooted and allowing nutrients to be washed away by rain.

David White, Advanced Master Gardener Volunteer with UNH Extension, has provided some helpful guidance for gardeners regarding Jumping Worms and the upcoming Plant Sales Season. Read more at: Plant Sales and Jumping Worm and Invasive in the Spotlight: Jumping Worms