Monday, October 4, 2021

A True-Life Horror Story: Jumping Worm Villains! S.L. Carlson


I am S. L. Carlson, a proud and grateful BWL Publishing Inc. author. My books can be viewed and purchased by visiting

October is a grand month for scary stories, and I do appreciate a good fright. I once wrote a children’s book filled with spine-tingling ghost stories set around the Great Lakes. Obviously, I also love fantasy creatures, like unicorns, dragons, trolls, etc., all of which you’ll find in my Unicorn Chronicles. There’s also the fact that every good tale requires (by Author’s Law, I’m told) an evil villain. But these creatures which I’ve recently discovered are not fantasy creatures. They are real. This post concerns a true-life horror story, about critters called jumping worms.

I do love nature. I love being outside more than inside, feeling the sun, rain, or snow on my skin, watching wildflowers bloom and fade, hearing the birds and breezes through the trees, and the rustling of cornstalks in autumn. 

All my novels are set in the outdoors. But jumping worms are threatening to change my genre from fantasy to science fiction.

“Experts suggest that individuals shouldn't purchase the worms for bait, gardening or composting—and should only buy compost or mulch that has been adequately heated to reduce the spread of egg casings, which do not survive temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, Newsweek reports.” — from the Smithsonian Magazine

Fact: Jumping worms are asexual, so it only takes one to create many.

Fact: They change the soil content in a negative way, eating nutrients from the soil and leaving behind a granular soil that looks like coffee grinds which prevent plants from growing — plants in your garden, plants in your yard, plants and trees in forests. (Are you appreciating why this post is a true-life horror story?)

“Jumping worms, known also as Asian jumping worms, crazy worms, Alabama jumpers and snake worms, are invasive earthworms first found in Wisconsin in 2013. Native to eastern Asia, they present challenges to homeowners, gardeners and forest managers. Jumping worms get their name from their behavior. When handled, they violently thrash, spring into the air and can even shed their tails to escape.” (From Keyword: jumping worms)

“Jumping worms may have been brought to North America in the 19th century with plants and other imported horticultural and agricultural materials. Since then, the worms have spread. As of 2021, the invaders can be found in Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma”, reports Jason Murdock for Newsweek.

Facts: Jumping worms are bigger than regular earthworms and live nearer the surface. They wiggle, twist and jump about a foot off the ground. They die off in winter — hurray — but their egg castings survive in frigid weather — boo! The cocoons can also be transported in potted plants which are sold in stores, or even in mulch.

Fact: It is difficult to kill a jumping worm because they have five hearts. If you smash one with your boot or spade, parts will most likely survive. If you cut it up, you might be creating five new worms.

“To control jumping worm populations in smaller areas like residential gardens, researchers suggest individuals remove any adult worms they find, place them in a plastic bag, leave them in the sun for at least ten minutes and then throw them away”, Newsweek reports.

How’s this post for a scary Halloween story? They scare the heebie-jeebies out of me. Then again, as an author, I do respect and appreciate the roles of villains So do not be surprised if you find some of these slimy, evil jumping worms in a future novel.


Enjoy your villains.


S. L. Carlson Blog & Website:

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  1. Jumping worms sound horrible. Great villains

    1. They give me nightmares! So, what should writers do, but turn those nightmares into villains?

  2. Never heard of them in central Arizona, but they probably wouldn't survive the summer here. With temperatures reaching F120, and averages over F100 and up for hours on end, they wouldn't like it here at all. It's a good thing. Another reason to love the heat...

    1. You’re right that they probably won’t breed in AZ. Lucky you (if surviving F120 is lucky; but you do have gorgeous scenery!

  3. Yuk, never heard of them and hope they don't find their way over here. We have enough nasty critters already in Australia. Snake season is coming up and although I would never kill one I can't abide them and dread one finding its way into my garden.

  4. APPARENTLY, they made their way here from Asia, closer to you, probably in soil of plants. But hopefully you are safe.

  5. Yikes! Happy to note none in MIchigan !! Great blog post.

    1. Let's hope it stays that way. I was told we ought to spread all bought plants (in the spring) to check to see if there were any jumping worm hitchhikers in the pots. Ewwww! (Poor forests and gardens and croplands!)


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