There is a new worm in town – the invasive jumping worm. Also known as Alabama jumpers, Jersey wrigglers, wood eel, crazy worms, snake worms, Asian jumping worm, and crazy snake worms, they have been found in Napa and Sonoma Counties (not yet in Marin). They are smooth, glossy gray or brown and 1.5 to 8 inches long. While similar-looking to the common earthworm, this worm thrashes wildly and is said to jump as much as one foot off the ground.
Like other earthworms, this invasive species eats fallen leaves and other natural material on the ground. Because they have very large mouths akin to mechanical excavators, jumping worms are able to grasp and consume large amounts. With their voracious appetite, they out compete the native microbial organisms and invertebrates that other organisms feed on. They eat so much of the soil “litter” layer that they nearly clear the topsoil of all life. Many plants can’t grow or spread without this layer of leaf litter, plus this disrupts the ecosystem of the leaf litter.
Learn more about this worm, and hope it doesn’t make it to our yards!