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Invasive worm spreads through MO, IL

An invasive pest is spreading in Missouri and Illinois. University of Missouri Extension entomologist Kevin Rice tells Brownfield the jumping worm is spreading from mostly urban areas. 

“They are invasive, and they grow a whole lot faster, and they eat a ton more leaf litter than other worms,” Rice said. “Long story short, that really disrupts the nutrients available for plants and native animals in the ecosystem.”

He says while not much is known about the damage the worms cause yet, they seem to impact forest land the most. Rice says the jumping worm removes moisture from the soil because of how much leaf litter it eats, opening the door to more problems. 

“One species, like the worms, disrupts the environment and now these invasive plants are establishing and that further creates damage for native plants and animals,” Rice said.

He says the Asian native worm is likely spreading as unused bait from fishermen. The worm’s impact on farming ground is not yet well known. 

Rice says the worm has been found in more than 20 Illinois counties and near higher populated areas in Missouri. The jumping worm can also be found in the East Coast and Upper Midwest. 

Kevin Rice Interview

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