Jumping Worm

James Johonnott

Our new friend the
Our new friend the "crazy worm."

Wisconsin soil has a new guest and it’s as stubborn as it is unwelcome. The most recent entry in a slew of invasive species to make it to Wisconsin, the jumping worm was first found in the state in 2013 around Madison.

At least they're not around Eau Claire. Yet.
At least they're not around Eau Claire. Yet.
Get a closer look.

Since then, DNR has confirmed that it’s spread to 5 other counties and possibly to 14. The jumping worm is so called because of its strange wriggling behavior when touched. The crawlers are asexual — so they can reproduce on their own — which makes them particularly resilient as a species in new environments. They don’t survive the harsh Wisconsin winters, but their cocoons do, starting the whole life cycle over again in the spring.

The Wisconsin DNR says that it’s too early to know what the impact of these worms will be, but in other states they have been known to change the soil composition and destroy local vegetation, allowing invasive plants to move in.

The DNR has released this fact sheet so the public can learn more about this species and published this story in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. If you’re interested in volunteering to protect Wisconsin’s native flora by removing invasive species, you can learn more about the Wisconsin First Detector program here.