Earthworms are usually considered beneficial creatures. However, invasive Asian earthworm species are displacing native species in the United States while deteriorating soil quality.

Harmful Invasive Earthworms

Earthworms are usually known as useful creatures that benefit the soil by their presence. It does not apply to invasive earthworms from Asia. These species, unlike the original earthworms, remove all nutrients from the soil and leave behind only tailings. They are gradually displacing domestic earthworms, which leads to a decrease in soil quality and deteriorating living conditions for plants, fungi, and invertebrates.

Photo credit:, GFDL 1.2 

Some invasions are quite inconspicuous. For example, the United States has struggled with Asian earthworms in recent years. They are nicknamed “mad worms”, “snake worms” or “Alabama jumpers”, according to the frantic movements of these ringworms. In fact, there are three species of earthworms of the genus Amynthas that come from the Far East.

Earthworm Invasion from Asia

Amynthas earthworms came to North America sometime during the 19th century. Like many other invasive species, they came by ship from the Far East to America. They wandered in the ship’s ballast and the soil in which the plants were transported. Similarly, they appear to be spreading further across the United States, using waterways that can carry their egg cocoons.

Unfortunately, this is difficult when it comes to possible action against invasive earthworms. They are very well protected in the soil. Although freezing winters decimate their populations, well-camouflaged eggs are hardy and usually survive. It is similar to fire, so even burning does not solve the problem with these earthworms.

Featured photo credit: Eukalyptus z Pixabay