Snake Worm, Crazy Worm, Black Wriggler

Amynthas corticis (Kinberg, 1867) (Megascolecidae)


  • Origin in Southern Asia including part of China
  • Found in warm climates, including Central Valley
  • 45-170 x 3-6 mm
  • Parthenogenetic
  • Some detritivory at soil surface
  • Excretory system in part enteroic: most nephridia discharge into gut
  • Very fast moving, lashes about when disturbed, often sheds "tail" which continues to lash about while the rest of the earthworm escapes
  • Found in clayey and sandy soils, tolerates heat, drough


Crazy worm, snake worm, or squirmy Burmese worm (Amynthas diffringens) is common in warm parts of California in permanent beds with abundant surface litter. It can squirm violently when handled, sometimes actually leaping from one’s hand. When handled, it often sheds its tail, which continues to squirm while the rest of the earthworm tries to escape.

Photographs by Suzanne Paisley.