The other day Sena and I were talking with a landscaping consultant about a job we’d like done on our backyard patio. He uncovered a worm in the dirt, and it seemed to wriggle energetically. Jumping worms had been in the news a lot last month. The consultant picked it up and the worm seemed to jump out of his hand.
Sena exclaimed, “It’s a jumping worm; kill it!” The consultant picked it up again and, much to our surprise, simply crushed it in his hand. However, he doubted that it was a jumping worm and hinted that much of the news lately about jumping worms (an invasive species from Asia) was overdone.
I don’t know how he got rid of the crushed worm in his fist.
But I suspect he wouldn’t crush a hammerhead worm in his hand (although I wouldn’t bet on it).
They are also being reported in the news recently, although they’ve been in the country for decades and probably longer. They’ve possibly been sighted in Iowa. The hammerhead worm is another invasive species from Southeast Asia. If you cut them up, the pieces will grow into new worms.
They also carry a toxin on their bodies. It won’t kill you or even harm you that much if you get it on your hands, but you should wash up thoroughly if you nonchalantly crush them in your fist.
The hammerhead worms eat earthworms, which could make things even harder for them because jumping worms displace common earthworms by outcompeting them for territory.
Right now, the best way to rid your garden of hammerhead worms is to kill them by sprinkling salt or spraying vinegar on them.
I can’t help wondering if there might be a way to teach hammerhead worms to eat jumping worms.
But then, how would you get rid of the hammerhead worms? They don’t have any natural predators. There are a number of ways humans can control the population in their immediate vicinity.
Just don’t crush them in your fist.