Since the 1950s, those in the American Southwest have looked to the stars and wondered if we are truly alone.

With stories such as the Betty and Barney Hill abduction in 1961, folks have feared a full-on invasion of an advanced race of extraterrestrial beings.

Alien Abudction
Credit: Canva

Turns out it's already here.

600 ESPN El Paso logo
Get our free mobile app

Attack of the Worms

Worms in Dirt
Credit: Canva

While we may not see flying saucers descend through the atmosphere anytime soon, Arizona is in for a worse fate: earthworms.

The slimy, wiggly creature is well known across the globe and a vital part of agricultural production due to its manipulation of farming soil and the addition of fresh fertilizer.

Worms in Hand
Credit: Canva

The issue with these creatures comes from their non-native cousins, which have been finding their way into North America for the past two centuries. These "alien" earthworms disrupt the natural balance that North American earthworms have maintained on farmland.

What Does This Mean for Arizona?

Woman planting a plant
Credit: Canva

Non-native earthworms now occupy 97% of North American land. While their prevalence is higher in the northern regions of the U.S., they still pose a serious threat to Arizona farmers and gardeners. For every native earthworm in Arizona, there are two non-native earthworms that occupy the same space.

The invasion has yet to show its true dangers, but they are lurking as long as these alien species continue to make their way into North American soil.

Woman pouring seeds into her hand
Credit: Canva

While not all invasive species of earthworms negatively impact the environment, their presence alone is disrupting the delicate balance of the American ecosystem, and if left unchecked could spell doom for the southwest farming industry.

Can We Save Them? 7 Animals in Arizona on the Verge of Extinction

Here are seven Arizona species that are on the verge of extinction. Can we save them before it's too late?

Gallery Credit: Val Davidson

LOOK: Counties with the longest life expectancy in Arizona

Stacker compiled a list of counties with above average life expectancy in Arizona using data from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

More From 600 ESPN El Paso