We’ve all heard the idiom, “The early bird gets the worm.” When it comes to invasive jumping worms, unfortunately, there are more than enough to go around. These invasive worms can consume excessive amounts of organic matter and leaf litter in a garden or forest, to the point it becomes uninhabitable to native plants and wildlife. This may sound crazy — and some have aptly named these jumpers “crazy worms” — so let’s back up.

Worms, of course, are common creatures found crawling around our gardens, lawns and driveways after a spring rain. Fishermen (and fisherwomen) dig them up and wrap them around hooks to tantalize fish. Kids find them intriguing and dare each other to eat them. Earthworms are also beneficial soil aerators in the garden, and a tasty meal for birds. Although they’ve become common, there are no earthworms native to the Northeast. Most of the worms found in the soil here are descendants of worms that arrived with early European settlers.

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The Outside Story is assigned and edited by Northern Woodlands magazine ( and sponsored by the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (

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