It is admittedly a flashy title reminiscent of comic books from the 1950′s, but I can assure you there is truth behind the dramatic wording. Right now, throughout the world, an species of earthworm that was once alien to most of the world, has invaded and changed the environment in some way.
In North America it goes back to the arrival of the first Europeans, who unknowingly brought over soil which contained the earthworm. Over time, the earthworm would spread to most every forest on the continent. In the process, it would encroach on other native insects of the soil such as millepedes. It would also change the carbon cycle, in some cases slowing the rate at which waste would decompose in a forest.
But the European earthworm is not the only alien species making its presence felt around the world. According to the BBC, an Asian worm species from the genus Amynthas is also spreading throughout North America. These worms reproduce at an amazing pace and through their borrowing and eating can push out other insects that live off the earth. Their activities also have an impact on soil erosion and nutrient levels.
Is there any good news to the Alien Worm invasion? Scientists say yes, but every benefit comes with a cost. In places like the amazon, invading worms are actually helping slow down the rate of erosion and helping condition soil. They increase the mineral levels and stimulate plant growth. However, they also make it so that native species of insects and plants will be lost forever.
Photo: Sean Ganann / flickr