'Asian Crazy Worm' Emerges in Wisconsin - WBAY

'Asian Crazy Worm' Emerges in Wisconsin


It may sound like a new dance craze, but Wisconsin wildlife officials are not thrilled about the appearance of a new invasive species referred to as the Asian crazy worm.

The UW Arboretum in Madison is the first confirmed site for the Asian crazy worm, or Amynthas agrestis, in Wisconsin.  Officials believe it arrived in the United States from Japan and the Korean Peninsula along with plants imported for landscaping.

“Amynthas was listed as a prohibited species under Invasive Species Rule NR 40 since its adoption in 2009, because we knew their introduction into our state poses a huge threat to the future of our forests,” says Bernie Williams, invasive species specialist in forest health at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Williams says they confirmed the appearance of earthworm last fall.  The worm's egg cocoons then survived the harsh winter.

The DNR says the crazy worms mature in just 60 days, which allows populations to double during the warm months.  When those numbers spike, the crazy worm can eat organic matter at the soil surface, which exposes the forest floor to erosion, according to the DNR.

The worm is darker in color than European earthworms. It grows to eight inches long, and flops and wriggles when handled.

The DNR and researchers will be testing techniques to control the crazy worm.

“They are here, but we are still trying to get a handle on the extent of their distribution at the arboretum,” says Brad Herrick, arboretum ecologist and research program manager. “While we do that, we’re instituting some best management practices — cleaning boots and tools, washing vehicles — and doing our best to stay clear of the areas where we have found the worms.”

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