Invasive Crazy Snake Worm

This worm, aka Asian Jumping Worm (Amynthas aigrestis), has been identified in Durham, NH, in the woods, flowerbeds, raised beds, and under a tarp next to the woods. There have been self-reported sightings in other Durham locations, Dover, Lee, and Elliot, Maine.

These invasive worms prefer forest floors, but also devour compost, and wood mulches of all types. You may notice what resembles coffee grounds on top of mulch, the sidewalk, or in gravel.

Jumping worms are approximately 3-7″ long, are dark brown to gray in color, have a light grayish tan band that goes completely around the body, and writhes like a snake when you try to pick it up.

It’s readily identified in the fall when the worms are in the adult phase and laying eggs. In the spring, they look like regular little worms.

So what do you do after you freak out? After all, you thought earthworms were your friends.

Here in New Hampshire, you can take the worms to the UNH Anthropod Identification Center, Spaulding Building, 28 B for identification. For $5, the specimen can be identified. Here is the link to the submission form.

These invasive worms have become a national problem. Originally, they came from Asia in potted plants and have wormed their way up from the South to the Great Lakes Region, Vermont, and now the rest of New England.

Jumping worms can reproduce without fertilization, and one individual worm can launch an invasion in your woods, garden, or flowerbed. The worms die when the weather turns cooler but leave cocoons loaded with eggs that live through the winter to rise again in the spring.

Compost and potted plants have been known to spread them. When you bring new plants home, examine the soil they are in before planting and when you buy compost consider purchasing from a source that heats the compost to kill pathogens.

Questions? Contact your local Cooperative Extension office. Don’t know where your local office is? No problem.

Just enter your zip code on www.gardeningknowhow.com/extension-search, and contact information will be provided.

Submitted by: Jean O., MG since 2009, and Judy V., MG since 2007

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Informational Sources:

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About SCMGA

Strafford County Master Gardeners Association, part of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, is fifty+ gardeners strong, educating through gardening in Strafford County New Hampshire.
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8 Responses to Invasive Crazy Snake Worm

  1. Oddment says:

    Yes, I did think earthworms were my friends! Do these mulch-eaters do any GOOD in a garden, or do they just give earthworms a bad name? And do I want to know why they are called jumping worms? Thanks for the heads-up on these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • SCMGA says:

      As of this point, we are not aware of any good they are doing for our gardens. Normally, when you pick up a worm, they are fairly slow in moving. These guys can jump and basically run away making them very hard to catch and either identify or dispose of. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about them. Thank you for commenting.

      Like

  2. Jean says:

    No. These worms eat all the vitamins in the soil so our plants don’t get any. They love to eat compost and organic matter and potentially destroy the forest floor and our gardens. Read the links to the University of Vermont.
    Many of the worms on my property had been devouring all the compost I had been applying and were as big around as my little finger and 7+” long. They’re called Jumping Worms because they thrash around and jump out of your hand when you try to pick them up.

    Like

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