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Jumping worm

Jumping worm (Amynthas spp.)

Jumping worm is an invasive earthworm native to East Asia. This active and damaging pest was found in Wisconsin in 2013. It is known and sold under a variety of common names including crazy worms, Alabama jumpers and snake worms.

Jumping worm basics

Regulated areas of jumping worm
Jumping worm is restricted (orange counties)

The name speaks for itself! They slither and thrash when handled and behave more like a threatened snake than a worm. Jumping worms can be 1.5 to eight inches long. The narrow band around their body (clitellum) is cloudy-white and smooth, unlike other species which have a raised clitellum. A jumping worm's clitellum will also completely circle the body.

The problem with jumping worms

Jumping worms change the soil by disrupting the natural decomposition of leaf litter on the forest floor. They turn good soil into grainy, dry worm castings (poop) that cannot support the understory plants of our forests. In residential and urban areas they can also harm ornamental plantings and turf.

You can help!

Jumping worms reproduce and spread quickly, so it's extremely important for us to learn where they are in Wisconsin and help slow the spread. Use the jumping worm identification card [PDF] and brochure [PDF] and watch for this pest. Report finds to

Follow these simple steps to reduce the spread of jumping worms. These "best management practices" are also listed on the jumping worm brochure [PDF]:

  • educate yourself and others to recognize jumping worms;
  • watch for jumping worms and signs of their presence;
  • ARRIVE CLEAN, LEAVE CLEAN - Clean soil and debris from vehicles, equipment and personal gear before moving to and from a work or recreational area;
  • only use, sell, plant, purchase or trade landscape and gardening materials and plants that appear to be free of jumping worms; and
  • only sell, purchase or trade compost that was heated to appropriate temperatures and duration following protocols that reduce pathogens.

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Jumping worm was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Last revised: Tuesday May 01 2018