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Leaping Worms Invade!

earthworms on a persons hand
Photo by Sippakorn Yamkasikorn on Pexels.com

Jumping Jehoshaphat!

An invasive worm species that can leap a foot into the air is spreading its way across the U.S.

SFGATE.com reports how the species—which first arrived in the soil of potted plants back in the early 20th century—goes by a few other names such as the “Alabama jumpers” and “Jersey wrigglers,” but is officially called Asian jumping worms because of their home continent and their aforementioned ability to jump the full length of a ruler.

As if the image of a worm jumping off the ground wasn’t jarring enough, the same SFGATE.com article details how Asian jumping worms can also “thrash violently like a rattlesnake when handled,” and additionally have the ability to clone themselves.

On top of that, they’ve managed to end up in California after being spotted throughout the East Coast—far from their native soil in Japan and the Korean Peninsula—confirming their presence in both coasts of the country and inspiring worry in a number of scientists.

And this worry does in part stem from the way these guys can move: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service official website, all this jumping Asian jumping worms do works up a voracious appetite, causing them to eat pretty much everything around them without ever being fully satisfied, their ravenous ways harming the indigenous species in the environment around them.

Specifically, the Forest Service website highlights how the earthworm species tends to eat tiny pieces of fallen leaves that are key in making up the top layer of forest soil, preventing the growth of plants and even robbing certain animals of their homes.

“Soil is the foundation of life—and Asian jumping worms change It,” explains Mac Callahan, a Forest Service researcher who specializes in soil. “In fact, earthworms can have such a huge impact that they’re able to actually reengineer the ecosystems around them”

NorthventralPA.com continues to report how the key to mitigating the spread of Asian jumping worms is to focus on destroying their cocoons much in the same way it’s recommended to destroy the eggs of everyone’s favorite, the spotted lanternfly.

Further research on how to more effectively tackle the spread of the species is currently being conducted.