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‘Crazy worms’ invade America

A voracious and jumping earthworm is invading many US states, threatening native ecosystems.

Asian jumping worms can grow to more than 20 cm in length.  Photo: Nick Henshue

Asian jumping worms can grow to more than 20 cm in length. Image: Nick Henshue

Asian jumping worms (Amynthas agrestis), also known as Alabama worms or mad snake worms, are native to East Asia, especially Japan and the Korean peninsula, but in recent years they have been accidentally introduced. brought to North America through many imported ornamental plants and proliferated.

Last year, this exotic earthworm was found in a variety of US states, including Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin , and in the latest report, they’ve begun to invade California, Guardian reported on May 21.

“Amynthas agrestis is likely to establish a widespread distribution in California’s woodland ecosystems and bonsai production sites, particularly in residential and commercial environments,” said the California Department of Agriculture and Food (CFA). CDFA) said.

Asian jumping worms can grow up to 20.3 cm long and are very voracious. As the name suggests, they are capable of jumping and exhibit aggressive behavior more like a snake than an earthworm when threatened. If caught, they even cut off a part of their body to escape. Amynthas agrestis are hermaphrodites, able to reproduce without mating, or in other words, they clone themselves.

Invasion of the mad snake worm is a major threat to the native environment. They can wreak havoc on forest ecosystems by eating fallen leaves, thereby destroying the topsoil on which many living things depend.

“They cause severe damage to hardwood forests, especially maples, junipers, red oaks and birch, which rely on fallen leaves for their roots,” warns the CDFA. can devour the thick layer of organic leaves in 2-5 years.

“Soil is the basis of life, and the Asian jumping worm is changing it. In fact, earthworms can have such enormous impacts that they restructure the ecosystems around them,” said researcher Mac Callaham. from the US Forest Service added.

Experts have recommended several strategies to repel and get rid of Asian jumping worms, including pouring a mixture of water and yellow mustard seeds over the soil, or covering the soil with a transparent polyethylene sheet for two to three days. weeks until the soil temperature exceeds 40°C for at least three days to destroy the worm cocoons.

Doan Duong (According to Guardian/IFL Science)

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