- Author: Karey Windbiel-Rojas
- Editor: Lauren Fordyce
Invasive pest species threaten California's natural environment and can have an impact on public health. Help spread the word about these invasive species and how to limit their introduction, spread, and harm. Learn to recognize these pests and distinguish them from look-alikes. If you suspect you have found any of these species, contact your local County Agricultural Commissioner or report it to the CDFA Report a Pest Hotline.
Emerald Ash Borer
The emerald ash borer (or EAB) is an invasive insect that has been found for years in numerous states across the country, but until recently had not been found on the West Coast. In June 2022, EAB was detected in Oregon. This insect feeds on all species of ash trees and has the potential to devastate whole communities of trees.
See the California Department of Food and Agriculture website for information about its biology and national distribution.
In California, we've been on the lookout for the spotted lanternfly (SLF) for several years. In July 2022, a truck carrying firewood into California from New Jersey (silly, I know!) was inspected at a CDFA Border Inspection Station in Truckee and the wood was found to be carrying egg masses of SLF. The wood was destroyed but this is a significant detection.
Understand the danger of moving firewood from place to place within the state and especially across state borders. Firewood can harbor many types of invasive pests including SLF but also invasive shothole borers, gold-spotted oak borers, and other very hard to see invasive insects AND diseases.
Jumping worm/crazy worm
The invasive jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis) has many common names: Alabama jumpers, Jersey wrigglers, wood eel, crazy worms, snake worms, Asian jumping worm, and crazy snake worms. The jumping worm has been found in Napa and Sonoma Counties. It is similar-looking to the common earthworm but thrashes wildly and is said to jump as much as 1 foot off the ground.
Like other earthworms, jumping worms eat fallen leaves and other natural material on the ground. However, these worms are voracious eaters. They eat so much of the soil “litter” layer that they nearly clear the top soil of all life. Many plants can't grow or spread without this layer of leaf litter, plus this disrupts the ecosystem of the leaf litter.
Read more about this worm in this article by Oregon State University. UC IPM is compiling information about the worm and where it has been found in California and will publish and announce this information once finished.
There are many other invasive species in California being monitored for state agencies and many others receiving management efforts. Be sure you are subscribed to the UC IPM Home & Garden Pest Newsletter and social media platforms (@ucipmurban) to ensure you are receiving timely updates and news.
Other useful resources for these invasive pests and many others:
UC IPM Invasive and Exotic Pests web page
Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside
Urban & Community IPM webinars https://ucanr.edu/sites/ucipm-community-webinars/
CDFA target pest web page https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/PDEP/target_pests.html