Crazy snake worm

I am self-quarantining myself. (No, it’s not for coronavirus)

As some of you know, I have a small nursery operation growing fruit and nut trees, bushes, vines, etc. The majority have been field-grown and sold bare rooted, but the last few years I’ve started to grow some species in pots, mostly figs, but few other things as well.

Last year I noticed a new kind of worm here, earthworm sized but shallow dwelling at the soil surface, and when exposed or disturbed capable of quick snakelike wriggling movement. They would often be found in the compost and mulch piles, under neath pots in my “can yard” nursery area and I didn’t think to much more of it except that they probably make great fishing bait being so active.

The I found out amynthas agrestis, aka Crazy Snake Worm( and a bunch of other names, like Alabama Jumper, Jersey Jumper, Crazy Asian Worm, etc)and its recent arrival and spread here in Maine. It’s a highly aggressive invasive worm species which could profoundly affect an entire native forest ecosystem, and people are unwittingly spreading it around even up here in northern New England…


They likely arrived here in a potted plant, probably a fig. The last thing I want to do is have my nursery be another vector for these, so I will not be selling or otherwise distributing my 1000s of potted plants. It’s not a complete loss since I should be able to bare-root them and make sure the roots don’t harbor any eggs, but still a major bother with a loss of labor and investment.

I hope this message spreads awareness about this new threat to the forests that I love so much.
Be careful when buying in potted plants, inspect potting media, bought in mulch and compost carefully. Please dont use Jumpers for fishing bait.


I’ve heard of these guys. very damaging to the environment. didn’t think they would survive our winters. what sucks is once you have them they are impossible to get rid of and the cocoons are the same color as dirt. another nasty invasive!

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Yeah, those worms suck! They’re actually not impossible to eradicate. The best treatment that’s been found so far is a fertilizer made from tea seed meal called “Early Bird”. However, this will kill all species of earthworms. If that sounds scary, remember that ALL earthworms are invasive in the Northeast and are bad for native forests. Most of them are helpful for gardens, but the jumping worms aren’t, and they’re particularly bad for the forests.

I have them here pretty badly. I’ll probably try the fertilizer treatment. I’ll probably have to redo it every few years, as they’ll creep back in from the neighbors. Maybe you could use it to treat your potted stock?

Some good info here:


Huh. I grew up in UCLA (Upper Corner of Lower Alabama); may have always seen these, and never thought anything of them.
But, as Jay pointed out, earthworms are not native to the Western Hemisphere - or at least, not since the last Ice Age… and were introduced by European settlers in the last millenium… and they all appear to have a detrimental effect on native deciduous forest soil environments.
I’ve been checking in at the Wisconsin Worm Watch page from time to time for 20 years or more…

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My brother found one in a wooded area here last summer. Apparently they are all over the Northeast, but I never noticed them. Maybe that will change now that I’m more aware.


i did my Army basic at ft. mcclellan AL (anniston) in 89’ and i remember picking up one of these worms from the edge of the asphalt and it jumping right out of my hand, i thought it was a kind of snake. a guy from GA told me it was a alabama jumper. supposedly great bait do to its action. only realized recently what it was i held. they must be firmly entrenched in the south by now.

Regarding them robbing -plants- of nutrients by decomposing material, aren’t worm castings one of the best nutrients for plants?

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Yes, if incorporated into the soil. The problem with the snake worms is the castings form a layer at the surface, which washes away easily in a rain. So all those lovely nutrients go down the drain instead of straight to your plant roots. The European earthworm species go deeper and mix the organic matter throughout the top layers of the soil column.

There are two species in this genus that have “invaded” the US. The Alabama Red Wrigglers are Amynthus gracilus. The Amynthas agrestis (crazy snake jumping worm) is the one that is considered to be more of an issue.

I believe I have inadvertently brought red wrigglers onto the farm in a load of compost.
I mix this compost with promix for potted nursery stock .
The wigglers can , over time , take the compost out the bottom of the pots, leaving voids that are all but impossible to refill.
Pots with straight promix don’t have this issue.

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Anyone know of a ecological way to get rid of these worms ?
Never thought I would say that , but they are a problem …

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I don’t think anyone’s come up with a definitive solution yet. Supposedly, saponin rich fertilizers popular on golf courses work. There’s also a fungus-based pesticide that I heard someone is trialing in VT that has promise. Beauveria bassiana, sold as BioGard. Diatomaceous earth, sharp sand, and biochar are also things they are trying out. I’m skeptical that the sand would have much of an impact given how much sand there is in my soil, but you never know. Solarization is supposed to work, but that isn’t practical for me considering they’re in all or almost all of my yard, and in my neighbors’ yards as well. So, there are some things out there that might work, but nothing’s definitive yet. And none of them seem exclusive to jumping worms or even worms more broadly speaking.

I’ve gotten my most recent info from this episode of Joe Gardener podcast:


Also sold as botanigard and bio ceres WP and a omri listed mycotrol

Good luck guys these seem awful!

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