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
- University of Minnesota Extension
- University of Vermont Entomology Research Laboratory
- University of Vermont: The Crazy Snake Worm
- University of Wisconsin – Madison