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'Jumping worm' slowly creeping into Michigan

(WILX)
Published: May. 5, 2017 at 9:36 PM EDT
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There are hundreds of invasive species that are making their way into the state, but one is literally creeping through Michigan.

It’s called a jumping or crazy worm. Besides the creepiness factor, there is a legitimate reason to be concerned due to what it can do to soil specifically in a forest area.

It may look like your everyday worm but just touch it and it you'll quickly find out it's anything but.

“Unlike other worms that might move very slowly, this one moves really quickly when you touch it,” said Susan Tangora from the Forest Resources Division at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “It can also shed its tail as a defensive mode.”

The jumping worm has been found in places like Chelsea, Saint Claire, and even in Jackson County as recent as summer of 2016.

The worm originates from Asia.

Tangora says Oakland University professor Scott Tiegs made the discovery in Jackson County.

The jumping worm only needs itself to reproduce. The worms will hatch from a cocoon.

In Wisconsin, the jumping worm was discovered back in 2013 and its spread to five counties there.

“People are definitely a big part of how this gets spread and we're certainly concerned about the forest and people's plantings,” said Tangora.

That concern is over what this worm can do to soil, specifically in forests, that has the attention of Tangora.

“It seems to displace its organic matter with a grainy sand like particle that’s basically part of what it produces when it consumes everything through its body,” said Tangora. “In the making of this kind of coffee like texture, it really robs the soil of nitrogen and other nutrients that help our plants survive.”

The most effective way to stop the worm from spreading is to be vigilant in everyday outdoor activities.

While many other invasive species are make their way into our state, being aware is key to prevention.

“So we're asking folks to be aware of their surroundings be aware of your activities, take those steps to prevent but also be on the lookout,” said Tangora. “Look for things that are invasive and when you find them, report them.”

Tangora says you’ll typically see the jumping worm in the late summer months such as June or July.

If you do come across a jumping worm this summer, it may not matter if you kill it or not. The presence of a jumping worm will likely mean that there are others in the area.

It is very important to check the soles of your shoes or clothes for the tiny cocoons jumping worms will hatch from.

has a list of invasive species in the state, along with

from Michigan State University.

If you do find an invasive species, it is important to report it.

to make a report through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.

The network also has a smartphone app available for download in the

and

.

For more information on the jumping worm from the Wisconsin DNR,

.