The Olympics Are In Rio, But High Jumping Worms Are Now In Oregon

Aug 12, 2016

Credit Department of Agriculture

An exotic, invasive species of earthworm has appeared in several locations across the state.

As KLCC’s Kira Hoffelmeyer reports, the worm is known for its high jump abilities.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed reports on Thursday of Asian jumping worms in Clackamas County and the Grants Pass areas.

Jim LaBonte is the senior insect identifier and “worm expert” for the department. He says these types of invertebrates are known by several names, another of which is crazy snake worms.

Credit Department of Agriculture

“They move much more rapidly than do the typical earthworms, so that’s probably where the crazy snake comes from," says LaBonte. "And jumping comes from their habit of when you touch them or when they’re disturbed, they thrash around so vigorously, that they can actually bounce themselves off the ground. Not far, but just a little bit.”

LaBonte says what makes them dangerous is they produce asexually, could outcompete native species and they feed on the topmost layer of soil.

“When they get very abundant, there can be so many of them that they can completely remove this layer of the forest floor," says LaBonte. "And this has grave consequences for forest health.”

LaBonte says earthworms are hard to kill, and that’s if you can even find them.

He says this is just one invasive species of many. Since 2007, 96 exotic invertebrate species have been documented by the Department of Agriculture.

Follow Kira Hoffelmeyer on Twitter @kirahoffy