If You Live Here, Look Out for These "Crazy Worms," Experts Warn

These worms can severely damage the soil, and they need to be destroyed.

When you head out to do your gardening on the first few warm days of spring, you may be surprised by the discovery of jumping worms, appropriately nicknamed "crazy worms." These creatures are currently in at least 14 U.S. states. Officials across the country are asking residents to kill these worms if they come across them. Read on to find out why this species must be destroyed, and for an insect that you shouldn't smush, If You See This Bug in Your Home, Don't Step on It, Experts Warn.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the crazy worms, formally known as Amynthas spp, are an invasive species from Asia. Cornell University's Cooperative Extension said they can be identified by their "characteristic smooth, often milky white clitellum (band near the head of the worm)." These worms earned their moniker because they "thrash wildly when handled." Additionally, they are "four to eight inches long, move quickly like a snake, and can shed their tails when threatened," per Cornell. You can see the worms in action in a Wisconsin DNR video posted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Jumping worms
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Although a tiny worm may seem harmless, these worms can do so much damage to the soil that nothing can grow there again. According to a Fox affiliate in St. Louis, these worms are "displacing earthworms, centipedes, and other animals. They also damage plant roots, deplete nutrients, and alter the water-holding capacity of the soil. Plants become more susceptible to pests, drought, and disease. The worms are a danger to agriculture, gardens, and forests."

Fox reports that the Missouri Department of Conservation wants people to kill these worms if they see them. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Extension said in order to destroy them, you need to remove the critters from the ground and place them in a plastic bag in the sun for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you should dispose of the bag in the trash.

Although these worms were first spotted on the coast, they have since been seen in these 14 U.S. states. Keep reading to find out if you need to be on the lookout for these crazy worms, and for more insects to keep an eye out for, If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs.

1
Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA downtown cityscape on the White River at dusk.
iStock

2
Illinois

landscape photo of flowers and a field in Naperville, Illinois at sunset
iStock

3
Iowa

Iowa
Shutterstock

4
Kansas

green trees and Hamilton Lake at sunset in Garland County, Arkansas
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5
Kentucky

cityscape photo of Frankfort, Kentucky at dusk
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And for more insects infesting your state, If You Live Here, Prepare for a Major Bug Infestation, Expert Warns.

6
Louisiana

An aerial photo of downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana with the Mississippi River in view
iStock

7
Minnesota

Orange and green trees next to and a bridge over a lake in Duluth, Minnestoa
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8
Missouri

The skyline of Kansas City, Missouri at sunset.
iStock

And for more nearby creatures, If You See This in Your Yard, Prepare for a Bug Invasion, USDA Says.

9
Nebraska

national historic park, chimney rock, nebraska
Don Mammoser / Shutterstock

10
Ohio

Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park
iStock/pawel.gaul

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11
Oklahoma

greens plants and a lake below the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, Oklahoma at sunset
Shutterstock

12
Tennessee

The skyline of Chattanooga, Tennessee
iStock

13
Texas

Texas
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14
Wisconsin

landscape photo of Baraboo, Wisconsin
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And for more insects to watch out for, These Awful Bugs You Forgot About May Soon Come Back, Exterminators Warn.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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