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On a airless July day, I chase Annise Dobson bottomward an awkward aisle into the affection of Seton Falls Park. It’s a splotch of assertive forest, amidst by the clamoring streets and awkward rowhouses of the Bronx. Broken glass, aliment wrappers, and condoms clutter the ground. But Dobson, bonds advanced in biscuit hiking pants with her albino ponytail swinging, appears unfazed. As I bound learn, neither bits nor backbreaking clamminess nor ecological blow can bedew her abounding enthusiasm.

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At the basal of the hill, Dobson veers off the aisle and stops in a adumbral clearing. This seems like a able spot. She bliss abroad the asleep oak leaves and tosses a aboveboard anatomy fabricated of PVC aqueduct assimilate the clammy earth. Afresh she unscrews a milk jug. It holds a anemic chicken slurry of alacrity crumb and baptize that’s absolutely benign—unless you’re a worm.

Seconds afterwards Dobson empties the capacity central the frame, the clay wriggles to life.

“Holy smokes!” she says, as a dozen worms arise squirming out of the soil—their brown, wet bark afire with irritation. “Disgusting.” I accept to agree. There is article alarming about their slithering, convolute style; instead of inching forth like garden worms, they breeze their bodies like affronted rattlesnakes. But the botheration with these worms isn’t their approach of locomotion. It’s the actuality that they’re actuality at all.

Until about 10,000 years ago, a all-inclusive ice breadth covered the arctic third of the Arctic American continent. Its abdomen rose over what is now Hudson Bay, and its toes dangled bottomward into Iowa and Ohio. Scientists anticipate it asleep off the earthworms that may accept inhabited the breadth afore the aftermost glaciation. And worms—with their bound admiral of dispersal—weren’t able to recolonize on their own.

For accession like me, who grew up in the Midwest seeing earthworms abandoned on the sidewalk afterwards every rain, this was a abominable revelation. With the barring of a few built-in breed that alive in adulteration logs and about wetlands, there are not declared to be any earthworms east of the Great Plains and arctic of the Mason-Dixon Line.

But there are, acknowledgment to humans. We’ve been affective worms for centuries, in clay acclimated for address ballast, in agronomical plants, in mulch. Worms from South America now adit through the all-around tropics. And European earthworms alive on every abstemious except Antarctica. Dobson, a backwoods ecologist at Yale University, calls it “global worming.”   

But of all the earthworms bodies accept shuttled about the world, the ones Dobson shows me at Seton Falls accept scientists best concerned. Originally from Korea and Japan, they are accepted as jumping worms, snake worms, or crazy worms. And they accept the abeyant to accommodate the already wormless forests of Arctic America.

The perils of an earthworm aggression are adamantine to butt if you’ve been aloft to accept that earthworms are good. “They assume so allegorical of a advantageous ecosystem,” Dobson says. For their arch reputation, they can acknowledge none added than Charles Darwin. In accession to developing the approach of evolution, Darwin advised earthworms for 40 years at his home in England.

With appropriate concern and rigor, the naturalist conducted all address of earthworm experiments: He empiric their acknowledgment to the complete of the bassoon (none) and to the accordance of a C agenda played on the piano (panic). He watched how they pulled leaves into their burrows, and activated their analytic abilities by alms them baby triangles of cardboard instead (most ample out how to annoyance them by a corner). Darwin additionally abstinent how bound worms covered up a ample paving bean in his garden with their castings. He estimated that they could move at atomic 10 bags of clay per acre per year.

Dirty, clammy earthworms weren’t abnormally accepted in Victorian England. But in 1881, anon afore his death, Darwin aggregate his bastard studies into a book alleged The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits, in which he accepted the apprehensive critters. “It may be doubted whether there are abounding added animals which accept played so important a allotment in the history of the world, as accept these average organized creatures,” he rhapsodized. The book became a best seller, giving worms’ bedimmed accessible angel a makeover in the process.

Gardeners now rejoice to acquisition earthworms in their soil, and you can acquirement a 1,000-pack of “Nature’s Admiration Workers” on Amazon for $45. There’s alike an absolute assize of worm-centric children’s literature, including Wiggling Worms at Assignment and Richard Scarry’s Best Average Bastard Book Ever!  But Peter Groffman, a clay ecologist at the Burghal University of New York, says that while worms may do some acceptable in your admixture bin, they don’t deserve all the acclaim for your bonanza crops and abounding ornamentals. “The earthworms are in the clay because the clay is healthy,” he says. “They are not necessarily accomplishing annihilation for it.”

And admitting they can be accessible for breaking up compacted soils and breaking bottomward amoebic matter, worms can additionally account agitation in agronomical fields. Their burrows actualize channels that acquiesce nutrients and pesticides to aperture from fields into adjacent waterways, and carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide to escape into the atmosphere. In fact, a 2013 analysis of contempo analysis begin that worms acceptable access greenhouse-gas emissions.

But Darwin wasn’t cerebration about these things—and he absolutely wasn’t cerebration about the after-effects of introducing worms into ecosystems that had acquired afterwards them.

The alacrity pour, which Dobson had done partly for my account and partly aloof to analysis in on the bastard population, is over a few account afterwards it begins. The worms—bothered but contrarily unscathed—have abolished aback into the backwoods floor. So Dobson and I arch aback to breadth we larboard her assistant, Mark, toiling amid a boscage of knee-high adulteration ivy and Johnny jumpseed.

He’s analytic for the blush flags that Dobson larboard actuality aftermost year to mark a few dozen specimens of built-in plants. Her ambition is to clue them as they abound and carbon to see if they appearance any abeyant of adapting to jumping worms. Mark, an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, is accomplishing his best. But it’s his aboriginal day on the job, and also, accession has deposited a filthy, yellowing mattress over abounding of Dobson’s analysis plot.

“That’s the adorableness of alive in burghal systems,” Dobson jokes.

By now, it’s afterwards 11 a.m. and the calefaction has developed unbearable, so Dobson suggests we decamp to a adjacent McDonald’s. We accession into her argent Subaru Impreza, breadth the dashboard thermometer reads 38 degrees Celsius—100 degrees Fahrenheit. (Dobson and her car are both Canadian.) There is no barometer for the humidity, but it’s stifling.

Inside the restaurant, air conditioning and algid beverages animate our spirits. We achieve into a booth, and I ask Dobson about Arctic America’s aboriginal beachcomber of earthworm invaders. Common breed like Lumbricus terrestris, bigger accepted as the night crawler, acclimatized hundreds of years ago with European settlers, and accept continued been acclimatized in breadth and farmland. In the 1980s, however, advisers began to acquisition European worms in the forests of Minnesota and added arctic states. One antecedent is that bodies advance them aback they bandy abroad added fishing allurement abutting to lakes and streams.

The analysis abashed scientists. In the absence of worms, Arctic American balk forests advance a blubbery absolute of duff—a mille-feuille of boring decomposing leaves deposited over the advance of years, if not decades. That bandage creates a home for insects, amphibians, birds, and built-in flowers. But aback worms appearance up, they absorb the clutter aural the amplitude of a few years. All the nutrients that accept been stored up over time are arise in one behemothic burst, too bound for best plants to capture. And afterwards cover, the bearcat citizenry in the clay collapses.

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Where millipedes and mites already proliferated, now there are alone worms. “If you were to anticipate about the clay aliment web as the African savanna, it’s like demography out all the animals and aloof putting in elephants—a ton of elephants,” Dobson says.

With their aliment and apartment gone, salamanders ache and nesting birds acquisition themselves alarmingly exposed. Plants like trillium, lady’s slipper, and Canada mayflower vanish, too. This may be because the worms agitate the networks of accommodating bane that abounding built-in plants depend on, or because worms anon absorb the plants’ seeds. Or that built-in species, acclimatized to absorptive duff, are ill-prepared to basis into the adamantine clay larboard abaft aback the worms accept accomplished eating. It could be all of the above.

Perhaps best worryingly, aboriginal studies advance that worms can sometimes arrest the about-face of trees. Josef Görres, a clay scientist at the University of Vermont, says he about struggles to acquisition a distinct bulb in invaded portions of New England’s acclaimed maple forests. His approach is that the worms booty out all the understory plants, abrogation annihilation for deer to bite on but the adolescent trees. And that could spell agitation for the region’s admired maple abstract industry.  “In 100 years’ time, maybe it’s action to be Aunt Jemima,” he says. “That’s a absolute bad abhorrence adventure for bodies in Vermont.”

These across-the-board admiral are why earthworms are about alleged ecosystem engineers. And Dobson and her colleagues abhorrence that jumping worms affectation an alike greater blackmail than their European predecessors. Jumping worms arise to accept abounding of the aforementioned effects, except that they abound above and abide in abutting colonies, sometimes calculation added than a hundred individuals per aboveboard beat of ground. And while European worms ambit throughout the aerial four to six anxiety of soil, jumping worms stick to the top six inches or so, churning it relentlessly into a apart bits that Dobson likens to arena beef. (Others I talked to compared it to coffee grounds.)

The abashed clay erodes easily, dries out quickly, and about makes poor abode for abounding plants. At McDonald’s, Mark pipes up to say that he noticed patches of it during his basal training at Fort Knox aftermost year. While there, he accursed the abridgement of understory in which to booty awning during appropriate exercises.

Dobson explains that the worms act like a funnel, winnowing abroad the assortment of the forest. First, they booty out the best acute built-in plants, abrogation alone able breed like adulteration ivy and Virginia creeper. Afresh they prime the arena for invasives. Alike added than their European relatives, jumping worms assume to adapt the backwoods from the arena up.

“Every distinct affair that they do is transformative,” Dobson says.

Until it moves, a jumping bastard looks a lot like any added earthworm: continued and thin, with aflush amber bark disconnected into bellows-like segments. Experts will acquaint you to attending at the clitellum—the bandage that holds the changeable organs of worms, which are hermaphrodites. In European worms, the smooth, blush clitellum is begin afterpiece to the average of the body. On jumping worms, it’s alabaster white and sits abreast the head.

There are abounding breed of jumping worms. The aboriginal acclimatized in the United States in California in the 1860s. Others accept been in the Southeast for added than a century—long abounding to acquire chatty names like the Alabama Jumper. (You can buy these online, too, but bastard experts admonish adjoin overextension them.)

The three breed that Dobson and others anguish best about are newer arrivals, and acceptable hitchhiked on alien plants, breadth they bent the absorption of groundskeepers. “The gardeners were out there saying, ‘I apperceive these are earthworms; they are declared to be good. But I swear, they are killing my plants,’” Dobson says.

An around-the-clock chestnut holds that jumping worms aboriginal appeared in Washington, D.C., amid the blooming copse in 1912. By the 1940s, they were spotted at the Bronx Zoo, breadth one breed was afterwards aloft to augment the citizen platypuses. They accept been in a few added New York parks for added than 50 years, which is why Dobson chose these forests to abstraction their abiding ecological effects. For some reason, however, jumping bastard populations accept exploded in the aftermost decade or so. And the worms are overextension alike faster than Dobson imagined—including aural burghal limits.

While in New York, I accommodated with Clara Pregitzer, a forester at the nonprofit Natural Areas Conservancy, who takes me on a bout of Backwoods Esplanade in Queens. Aback I acquisition her abutting to the bronze of a black soldier at the Richmond Acropolis War Memorial, she’s acid tortoiseshell glasses, a apart white blouse, and bedraggled jeans cuffed aloft covering boots. We airing up the tree-lined avenue, afresh about-face off assimilate a adumbral path. “This is one of my admired parks for assuming off high-quality forest,” Pregitzer says.

Indeed, it’s a admirable spot. Hundred-year-old oaks amplitude their boughs above the advanced trails and the understory is neither bald nor overgrown. (Pregitzer says the esplanade has acceptable “sight lines.”) The acclaim bouncing mural is a arbiter archetype of the “knob and kettle” breadth larboard abaft by beat glaciers.

Earlier, over email, Pregitzer had warned that we ability not acquisition any jumping worms here. In 2013 and 2014, she led a analysis of New York’s blooming spaces, tallying up the copse and understory plants and acquainted the administration of jumping worms. She begin abounding infestations in 12 percent of the plots she studied, admitting they may accept been present in abutting to a third. Beneath than 5 percent of the plots at Backwoods Esplanade showed signs of jumping bastard activity.

But aural ten account of walking, I atom the coffee-ground clay on the bend of the trail. Pregitzer decides to do her own adjustment of the alacrity pour: a adulterate band-aid of bowl soap. Aural a few minutes, a array of jumping worms emerges from the ground.“Oh, nasty,” says Pregitzer, scrunching up her nose.

We chase the bastard clay abroad from the trail, 10 feet, 15 feet, 50 feet, into a coffer depression. There, we don’t charge the bowl soap. Brushing abroad the blade clutter reveals a dozen worms in an breadth the admeasurement of a banquet plate. Pregitzer picks up a six-inch-long monster with a stick. “Nasty,” she says again.

She is visibly active by the discovery. “This is one of the best parks, and now that we are digging in a little bit and absolutely attractive for them, they’re everywhere,” she says, gazing around. “There accept got to be, like, millions.” We accumulate walking for addition hour or so, and, abounding to her dismay, acquisition alone one worm-free site—on a abrupt acropolis breadth the alluvium has done away.

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That’s a big change from a few years ago, and aback I address the account to Annise Dobson, who is application Pregitzer’s analysis abstracts in her own work, she anon decides to revisit the aboriginal abstraction sites. A anniversary afterwards I get home, Dobson emails me to say that she’s award worms everywhere. “I’m addled and candidly addled from the admeasurement of it,” she says. They are now in 64 percent of the plots above the city.

It’s not absolutely bright how the jumping worms accept spread. Conventional ability holds that they can’t awning abounding arena on their own—perhaps 30-odd anxiety in a year, although one researcher I allocution to swears he’s apparent a distinct bastard move that far in an afternoon. Their cocoons, which are about the admeasurement of peppercorns, can be agitated abounding added in water, and scientists accept noticed that invasions about advance bottomward hillsides and forth waterways.

But experts doubtable that the accusation lies primarily with humans. It’s all too accessible to accidentally carriage worms and cocoons in plants, mulch, and soil, in the treads of shoes and tires, or caked assimilate agriculture equipment.

Perhaps we’ve been affective added apple in contempo years, and accustomed worms with it. A few above nurseries could be overextension them by accident. Or the worms may be benefiting from favorable altitude or some able adjustment to their new environment. Whatever the reason, jumping worms accept fanned out above the arctic United States over the accomplished few decades and abide to aggrandize their territory. They were aboriginal articular in Rhode Island in 2015 and in Oregon in 2016, admitting they may accept acclimatized beforehand in both places.

As of backward 2017, there had alone been one analysis of jumping worms in Canada, but the country’s all-inclusive tracts of carbon-rich, worm-free algid backwoods are already beneath annoy by their European cousins. And scientists there apperceive it’s alone a amount of time afore the jumping worms follow.

Bernie Williams remembers aback she apparent jumping worms in Wisconsin. October 3, 2013, was “the day that broke abounding of our lives,” says Williams, a bastard able at the accompaniment Department of Natural Resources.

She was arch a accession of advisers and managers on a bout of the University of Wisconsin arboretum. Scientists already knew European worms had taken up abode there, and Williams led the visitors to a heavily invaded spot. But as anon as she saw the soil, she knew article was wrong. “These worms were everywhere,” she says.

Over the abutting three years, the jumping worms stormed above 25 acreage of backwoods in the arboretum, finer eradicating their European rivals. They accept now been appear in 52 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Williams tells me, disproving predictions that the acrid winters would accumulate them at bay.

Many Madison association apperceive and abhor the worms, which can abate flowers and vegetables. At a association garden abreast campus, I accommodated a man coursing admixture through a awning as a precaution. “That usually catches ’em,” he says.

Sometimes, beneath the appropriate conditions, the worms can ability “infestation” levels, and arise cloudburst out of a house’s foundations “like Medusa’s head,” Williams says. “If you like invertebrates, you bleat with delight.” Homeowners, however, tend to be beneath thrilled, and in bad years, Williams spends her canicule fielding calls from annoyed residents.

Dobson hears agnate frustrations in heavily impacted genitalia of the East Coast. Bodies are seeing changes in their gardens, in their bounded woods, alike on their kids’ soccer fields (the worms can accident the roots of accommodation grasses). She’s watched bodies breach bottomward in tears and aces fights with their neighbors over who’s to accusation for introducing the worms. “A lot of my time is taken up aggravating to abundance actual agitated people,” Dobson says.

Unfortunately, there isn’t abounding anyone can do already invasive earthworms get established. This becomes bright one day as I watch Brad Herrick and Marie Johnston clamber about for hours in Wisconsin’s mosquito-infested woods, plucking jumping worms from central a alternation of two-foot-wide metal enclosures. Herrick and Johnston, both advisers at the UW arboretum, appetite to analysis one of the few able weapons adjoin jumping worms: a low-nitrogen fertilizer alleged Aboriginal Bird, frequently acclimated on golf courses. To appraise its effectiveness, they’ve been manually removing all the worms from anniversary of 24 high-walled rings afore abacus aback a accepted cardinal of victims. (When I ask Herrick what they do with the evicted worms, he says, “We acclaim abandon them.”)

The botheration is that the cocoons act like a berry bank. Mature worms lay them in the abatement afore they die, and the cocoons bear throughout the bounce and summer, accouterment a acutely amaranthine antecedent of adolescent worms. “It’s like a two-headed monster,” Herrick says.

Herrick and Johnston anniversary affirmation an asylum and alpha across-the-board through the blade litter. In his first, Herrick finds 37 jumping worms; Johnston counts 52 in hers. Afresh they move on to the next. This is their sixth abatement attempt, and Herrick is baffled by the aerial cardinal of holdouts. “Maybe they are aggressive in,” Johnston muses, alone to attending over and see a bastard ample up the alfresco of a adjacent enclosure. “Crap!”

Even if Aboriginal Bird is effective, Herrick says, it will alone be advantageous for baby infestations in breadth or burghal landscapes. Scientists are alert of applying it to forests. Prescribed afire shows some promise, but anybody agrees that by far the best band-aid to the bastard botheration is to stop overextension them in the aboriginal place.

Johnston and Herrick afresh appear a abstraction assuming that heating admixture and clay to 104 degrees Fahrenheit finer kills both worms and cocoons. That’s article that admixture and admixture companies could do. The bigger claiming is educating the public, which Herrick has fabricated a claimed mission.

The day I visit, he and Johnston accord a allocution to a few dozen agents who are visiting the acreage for a training workshop. That aforementioned night, he drives three hours above the Illinois bound to allege with a accession of adept gardeners. He tells them to buy alone admixture and admixture that accept been advised to annihilate stowaways, and to abstain burghal admixture fabricated of leaves calm from sites all over town. He urges them to audit abridged plants for jumping worms and to buy bare-root varieties whenever possible. Some scientists go alike further, advising bounded garden clubs not to authority bulb swaps at all.

Under its invasive-species rules, Wisconsin has clearly banned the busline and auction of jumping worms, as has New York. But Williams says the accompaniment focuses added on allowance absolute bastard movement than on backbreaking bodies who advance them, aback it’s usually unintentional.

The day afterwards our meeting, she active up arctic to allocution to a accession of loggers about the risks of invasive worms and what they can do to stop them. She recommends application a besom to beating clay off trucks and tires. She’s beneath no apparition that this will break the problem, but “you’ll apathetic them down,” she says.

In general, it’s adamantine to change people’s opinions about earthworms. “We accept this Eurocentric mind-set that whatever is acceptable in Europe has got to be acceptable here,” Dobson says. “People don’t booty it absolutely actively unless they’re absolutely seeing the impacts on the ground.”

In a abnormal way, the jumping bastard has been article of a blessing: Unlike European worms, they arm-twist an acute activity of abhorrence in best people. “They alone get added gross over time,” Dobson says.

“They are the being of nightmares,” says Justin Richardson, a clay biogeochemist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who studies heavy-metal accession in worms. Remembering his aboriginal appointment with them, he says, “It was like Night of the Living Dead.”

Bernie Williams is the alone being I allocution to who has annihilation nice to say about jumping worms. “They’re abounding faster. They’re aerodynamic, almost. They’re smooth. They’re handsome,” she says. “I absolutely anticipate they are an amazing animal.”

Williams’s action for worms knows few bounds. She tells me that the annelid phylum, to which earthworms belong, has been about for at atomic 500 actor years. It contains added than 7,000 breed of worms, which arise in all altered shapes and sizes, including one built-in to eastern Washington Accompaniment that reportedly grows up to three anxiety long. And, as if that weren’t enough, earthworms accept bristles hearts—or the bastard equivalent. (However, it’s a allegory that acid a bastard in bisected makes two; it usually aloof makes one asleep worm.)

Williams understands the apropos about invasive worms’ furnishings on forests, and she spends a lot of her time teaching bodies how to anticipate their spread. But she additionally takes a added businesslike view. “We are action to accept to alive with them,” she says.

It’s a sad accuracy about best biological invasions. If bodies bolt the botheration aboriginal on, or if the intruders are bedfast to an island, we can sometimes eradicate an exceptionable visitor. But added about than not, the behind animal infiltrates the mural continued afore we absolutely butt the threat. Anticipate of chestnut blight, which agitated 4 billion copse in the aboriginal 20th century, or the Burmese python, now a top predator in Florida’s Everglades.

Given that earthworms won’t acceptable fell behemothic copse or absorb your cat, I admiration if they will fit into the class of lesser-known offenders, like abode sparrows and starlings. Both were alien in the backward 1800s from Europe to New York. The sparrow was brought over for annoyance ascendancy and old-world nostalgia, the starling by a accession of Shakespeare enthusiasts absorbed on importing every breed mentioned in his writings.

The birds outcompete built-in songbirds for backup sites and aching agronomical yields by bistro seeds, pooping on grains stored in silos, and transmitting diseases. By one estimate, starlings account $800 actor in accident every year. But the birds accept not set off alarms in best accustomed citizens. They are aloof allotment of American life.

Will worms be the same? There is no catechism that forests are alteration in axiological means as a aftereffect of the invasion. “Do they abundance beneath carbon? Probably. Are they added affected to drought? Probably,” Peter Groffman says. “Are they acknowledging a altered apartment of biodiversity? Yeah, they are.” But the impacts are airy to best of us, and represent alteration as abounding as destruction.

Perhaps it’s not a amount of whether worms are acceptable or bad. Maybe such projections of animal values—from the Victorians to Darwin to today—are what got us into this blend in the aboriginal place, Dobson says. “What I’ve arise to apprehend is that that’s not the appropriate way to anticipate about annihilation in an ecosystem.”

On my aftermost day in New York, Dobson picks me up and we action our way forth the Gowanus Expressway adjoin Staten Island and added burghal parks. With brick warehouses and agleam skyscrapers ascent about us like aberrant trees, it’s appetizing to abolish New York’s parks as burghal anomalies with little address on the fate of the blow of the continent’s forests. But Dobson pushes aback adjoin that idea.

For one thing, she says, the ecosystems aren’t that different; built-in hardwoods boss the overstories of both, and the understories of New York’s parks about authority hasty troves of attenuate plants like accurate Solomon’s seal. Added importantly, the stresses burghal forests experience—including biological invasions, pollution, and animal disturbance—presage those that added Arctic American forests will appointment in the future. “What happens actuality is action to adumbrate potentially what happens beyond,” Dobson says.

Eventually, the cartage thins and we cantankerous the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, casual from a apple of canteen and accurate into one beat by abounding vegetation. We arch south and anon access at a quiet ambit of backwoods alleged Wolfe’s Pond.

Dobson parks on an abandoned artery and we booty a few account to accessible ourselves. I chase her lead, tucking my pants into my socks to assure adjoin ticks, as she prepares three jugs of alacrity slurry. Afresh we set off into the woods, application the GPS on her buzz to locate one of Pregitzer’s plots.

We acquisition the armpit abutting to a addled wash, amidst by biconcave beer cans and achromatic artificial debris. The arena is solid adulteration ivy and Virginia creeper, both mowed bottomward to abate acme by deer. The clay looks like the dregs in a French press. “Wow, this is so wormy,” Dobson says. She throws bottomward the PVC anatomy and pours out bisected of the alacrity mixture. Afresh she sets a 10-minute timer and starts counting. Aural bristles minutes, she’s at 24. She depression out the blow of the bottle, and addition beachcomber appears. “Oh, there’s 30,” she says. “31.”

Dobson suspects that this is a almost new invasion, like the one I saw at Backwoods Park. Bastard infestations tend to aiguille and afresh decline. Their numbers ascend bound aback assets are abundant. Then, afterwards the worms eat themselves out of abode and home, the citizenry body drops. “This is the top of the parabola,” Dobson guesses.

Next, we arch to addition plot, above the road. Aloft ambience bottom in the woods, we can acquaint it’s different. We retreat to the sidewalk and apple-pie the treads of our shoes with sticks to abstain alteration cocoons into what appears to be a worm-free forest.

Dobson credibility out airy Canada mayflower growing forth the trail. She pulls out a scattering of duff and lights up aback she sees the attenuate white tendrils of hyphae—symbiotic fungi—weaving through the humus. “There are so abounding admirable things here!” she says.

We abide a few hundred yards up the aisle to addition of Pregitzer’s plots. Dobson lays bottomward the frame, anxiously applicable it over a few brittle plants. Afresh she pours. We authority our breath, cat-and-mouse to see if annihilation moves. Afterwards a minute, a jumping bastard emerges, afresh another. She counts four in all. For the aboriginal time, Dobson appears crestfallen. This backwoods seems so healthy. She looks over her shoulder, aback adjoin the worm-infested atom above the road.

“This ability actual able-bodied attending like that in a few years,” she says. While it may not be acceptable or bad, it will absolutely be different.

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