A new species of invasive worm is chewing up forests and gardens on the New Hampshire Seacoast.
Experts will talk on Thursday in Portsmouth about how to deal with the wriggling pest called the jumping or crazy worm.
This Asian species looks like a regular earthworm, but Emma Erler, the education center program coordinator for UNH Extension, says you'll know the difference when you pick up a jumping worm.
"They really do jump or writhe in a somewhat snake-like fashion if they're disturbed, and that's the most telling. It's really bizarre,” she says.
And the jumping worms are hungry. Within a single season, Erler says they can reduce a forest floor or a garden full of mulch to a gritty texture like coffee grounds, which can’t support native plants.
"You end up with this forest floor that's either barren or that's full of invasive plant species, because they're more tolerant to those disturbed soil conditions,” she says.
Erler says jumping worms have mainly been found on the Seacoast so far, but they have been a problem in Vermont, Wisconsin and other states for years.
UNH will host a seminar about the worms – and how to stop them spreading any further in nursery materials – on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth.
Registration for the talk is required. More information is at UNH Extension’s website.