Invasive worm found in UW Arboretum - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Invasive worm found in UW Arboretum

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Photo: UW Arboretum Photo: UW Arboretum

 MADISON (WKOW) -- An invasive species popped up for the first time in Wisconsin in the UW Arboretum.

It's called the Asian crazy worm. It was first discovered last fall in the arboretum and the species survived the harsh winter. 

The worm gets its name because it flops and wriggles vigorously when handled.

It's believed to have arrived in the United States from its native range in Japan and the Korean Peninsula with plants imported for landscaping.

Ecologists are concerned because the worms reproduce quickly and can damage the forest floor, leaving it vulnerable to erosion and other invasive species.

"That's our concern in the arboretum, and anywhere they turn up," says Brad Herrick, arboretum ecologist and research program manager. "Our native plant communities developed without the presence of all these hungry worms. The [crazy worms] eat so much that they take away the spongy, surface organic layer that those plants need for nutrients."

Researchers are now testing potential control techniques.

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