We examined the suitability of an invasive Asian earthworm, Amynthas agrestis (Asian Crazy Worm or Alabama Jumper), as a prey item for a variety of native and naturalized North American predators. We conducted no-choice feeding trials with three edaphic predators—the nonindigenous Bipalium adventitium (Wandering Broadhead Planarian), Scolopocryptops sexspinosus (Eastern Red Centipede), and Desmognathus monticola (Seal Salamander)—and two aquatic predators, Nephelopsis obscura (Ribbon Leech) and Oronectes rusticus (Rusty Crayfish). During feeding trials, Am. agrestis exhibited a variety of novel defensive strategies, including apparent distastefulness, autotomization of posterior body segments, secretion of a yellow fluid, and thrashing. Planarians, leeches, and salamanders were more likely to capture lumbricid earthworm prey than Am. agrestis prey. Rusty Crayfish showed limited differences in capture rates among the earthworm species, while Eastern Red Centipedes were equally adept at capturing all earthworm species tested. Our results suggest that endemic arthropods may provide a measure of biological resistance against incipient Am. agrestis invasions.
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Vol. 21 • No. 4