CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield Cooperative Extension is warning the community about an invasive worm species that has been seen popping up around the county.

Jumping worms are often referred to as wrigglers, crazy worms and a number of other titles that highlight the species’ most prominent attribute — it’s movement. Unlike more common European Nightcrawler worms — the slimy creatures we’re used to seeing on sidewalks, in yards and other outdoor places — jumping worms move about in aggressive, thrashing motions. When handled or disturbed, they jump about.

Sierra Seekford with the Chesterfield Cooperative Extension described what one might see when looking at these worms.

“They’re just wiggling all around they look like snakes,” Seekford said. “They jump up, they even lose their tails.”

Another factor separating this type of worm from other non-invasive ones that residents may be more familiar with is the potential they hold for damage.

While jumping worms can’t physically hurt humans, they can destroy crops, gardens and landscapes. Jumping worms feed off of leaves and mulch — eroding soil nutrients in the process. These nutrients are essential to a soil profile, which plants need to thrive.

“These could really be harmful to your soil,” Seekford said. She added that the impact can devastate a homeowner’s yard.

Since these worms have no known predators, Seekford noted the importance of the community’s role in getting rid of them. There are a few different ways to kill jumping worms. You can lock them in a Ziploc bag and place the bag in the sun for about 10 minutes. Another option is to place the worm in soapy water or water mixed with rubbing alcohol.

Jumping worm adults are quite active in the summer months. They typically form cocoons and move underground once the temperature starts to drop. Their cocoons are around the size of a mustard seed, which makes them easily transportable and undetectable.

“It’s really easy to spread those on shoes if you have dirt on your shoes,” Seekford said.

Now that agriculture experts know the species is spreading across the state, they say it’s important to keep the worms from reproducing at rapid rates.

Regarding public action in the fight against these worms, Seekford outlined a test you can conduct to see if your yard has been invaded. The test can be found here.