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University of Minnesota Extension

Jumping worms

Quick facts

Jumping worms are an invasive species.

  • As their name implies, they jump, wiggle and are very active.
  • Jumping worms live in the leaf litter and the top few inches of soil on the forest floor.
  • They change the soil texture to appear like coffee grounds, strip the soil of nutrients and can kill plants.
  • Prevention is the only known way to manage them.
  • Jumping worms should be disposed of in the garbage. Do not release them into the environment.

Jumping worms should be reported. Learn how to report invasive species in Minnesota.

Why be concerned about jumping worms?

slithering worm on white table.
Jumping worm. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Jumping worms (Amynthas spp.) are an invasive species native to eastern Asia. In fact, no earthworms are native to Minnesota.

Jumping worms contribute to major forest ecosystem disturbance and are also troublesome for homeowners and gardeners. They negatively impact soil structure and reduce plant growth.

Earthworms, including jumping worms, are ecosystem engineers. By changing soil characteristics, they contribute to a number of other ecosystem shifts that may ultimately increase allergies and Lyme disease, reduce crop and forest productivity, and reduce forest biodiversity.

Like all earthworms, there are no research-based management options, so preventing their introduction and reducing their spread are the only two proven forms of management.

Jumping worm identification

Long worm on bare soil.
The ring (clitellum) on a jumping worm encircles the whole body evenly and is barely raised above the skin. Photo by Alfredo Eloisa, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  • Jumping worms can be 1-1/2 to 8 inches or more in length.
  • They are similar in size to other earthworms such as nightcrawlers or some of the larger angle worms, but their clitellum (collar-like ring) and coloring are different.
  • The clitellum is located 1/3 the length down the worm from the head, and it is smooth, cloudy-white and constricted, unlike the swelled saddle-like clitellum of European earthworms.
  • These worms may jump and wiggle noticeably when disturbed. They can move across the ground in an “S” pattern like a snake.
  • Jumping worms live for only one season.

Jumping worms in Minnesota


Authors: Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Laura Van Riper, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Reviewed in 2023

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