NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – A voracious earthworm species has arrived in Connecticut with the potential to cause all manner of damage to forests and wildlife.
So-called “jumping worms” can destabilize soil and make it harder for some plants to grow, state scientist Gale Ridge said. Hearst Connecticut Media Group. They can also accumulate toxic metals like mercury and lead, which are then eaten by birds and other animals.
They do not actually jump, but have strong, rigid bodies that can whip violently if disturbed. They can also climb and have been found on the upper floors of buildings.
“These are earthworms on steroids,” Ridge, who works for the entomology department at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, told the news group.
The worms, originally imported from Japan in the 1940s to feed platypus at the Bronx Zoo, are spread primarily by transporting mulch, compost and potted plants, and have been found throughout the state, but chiefly along the shore and in County Fairfield.
Ridge advised not to buy compost or mulch unless the seller can prove it was heat-treated from 105 degrees to 131 degrees for at least three days, and not to buy worms on the Internet.