Pest control experts say jumping worms are the new murder hornets and are bad news for our forests and gardens leaving behind nothing but a path of destruction.

These jumping worms are an invasive species and come from Asia. The worms have a tell-tale milky white ring, grow up to eight inches long, and are sometimes mistaken for a snake. However, when they are threatened, they will shed their tale.

Cornell Cooperative Extension
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Cornell Cooperative Extension says they damage plants, soil, and other plant life:

"The jumping worms alter the structure and chemistry of the soil dramatically, leaving a distinctive grainy soil full of worm castings, and they can damage lawns, landscapes and even the forest understory habitat."

People unknowingly spread these worms by using them for bait or transporting their egg cocoons on shoes and wheels, mulch, or transplanted plants. If you already have these worms, remove and dispose of them by solarizing them or soaking them in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.

What To Look For Via Cornell Cooperative Extension

  • Worms are smooth, glossy gray, or brown.
  • Worm size is 1.5 to 8 inches long.
  • They jump and thrash wildly when handled, moving more like a threatened snake.
  • They shed their tails in defense.
  • Clitellum (the narrow band around their body) is smooth to the body.
  • Their clitellum completely encircles the body and is often cloudy white to gray.
  • Its body looks metallic.
  • Soil signature jumping worms leave distinctive grainy soil full of worm castings.
  • The soil becomes granular and looks like dried coffee grounds.
  • They are at their largest in late August or September.

The Asian Jumping Worm is prohibited by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as they devour organic matter that supplies vital nutrients for plants and provides food, protection, and habitat for wildlife.

Report Your Sightings:

Dr. Andrea Dávalos
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
SUNY Cortland
Tel: 607-753-2709
Email: andrea.davalos@cortland.edu

Timothy S. McCay
Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies
Colgate University
Tel: 315-228-7705
Email: tmccay@colgate.edu

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