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CHICAGO — An invasive species known by a variety of names — jumping worms, crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, snake worms — is invading the Illinois area.

The jumping worms move quickly when disturbed and look like small snakes thrashing around in the soil. They’re voracious eaters, alter roots of trees and the growth of plants. There are so many in Chicago and the northeast part of the state that scientists are calling it an invasion.

“They’re exotic. Not natural. Invasive species and widespread in that region of Illinois,” Chris Evans, forestry extension and research specialist at the University of Illinois, said.

Like traditional worms, they only come out of the soil when the ground is wet. The worms are more prevalent in the northern parts of the state than the central or southern parts.

It appears there is no way to get rid of them.