Asian crazy worms found in Appleton soil

Asian crazy worms (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

APPLETON - An invasive species being called a major threat to Wisconsin soil, has been found in Appleton.

The so-called "Asian Crazy Worm" can destroy dirt, and push out plants and native worms.

In her 10 years as a gardener at an Appleton restaurant, Bernie Meyer says she's never seen anything like it.

"Crazy worms is the best way to describe them. As soon as you try digging them, they jump, they wiggle. It's very difficult to catch them. Most insects don't creep me out, but this one does," said Meyer, The Barefood Gardener.

The Department of Natural Resources says the crazy worm may have arrived in mulch, dirt, or the roots of landscape plants. Meyer brought one of the 30 worms she found to the Outagamie County UW-Extension office in Grand Chute. UW-Extension Agriculture Agent Kevin Jarek says the crazy worms have a destructive demeanor, and can push out native worms.

"They eliminate the existing population of earthworms we have, which help the soil. And unfortunately the crazy worms break down, or reduce the quality and structure of the soil that exists. What this means is we could be looking at reduced crop yields, for gardeners, and for farmers," said Jarek.

The DNR says the first Wisconsin crazy worm was first found in Madison last year. Now the agency is looking to form a task force to come up with a plan to stop the worm from spreading further.

"Part of the solution is getting people from just about every group that would be affected by them. Coming together, and let's come up with some ideas on how to address it," said Bernie Williams, DNR Invasive Species Specialist.

Williams says plans to get rid of the worms include fire, and fertilizers. But Meyer says she just wants the "crazies" gone.

"I am worried about it. It's something that we have to educate the public on it. Find out if there's anymore. Hopefully, we can find some way to eradicate them," said Meyer.

If you think you have seen one of the Asian Crazy Worms, the D.N.R wants to hear from you.

You can report it, by going on the DNR's invasive species page: