Have you heard about jumping worms? Don’t panic but do watch for them. Advice is to properly dispose of worms (in a sealed plastic bag) if you find them. Most importantly, if you see jumping worms report them at blm.mn/jworm. Get some clear photos to help with identification. Remember that making a report has no regulatory risk to you.
How can a worm cause so much trouble? Jumping worms are a relatively new invasive species that can strip soil of nutrients and kill plants. They can turn healthy soil into material that resembles coffee grounds. Otherwise healthy plants can wither as jumping worms feed and grow.
In August, jumping worms are reaching maturity. They grow up to eight inches long. Because jumping worms resemble night crawlers, they can be hard to identify. A distinctive flat band on the top third of a jumping worm is one difference and another is how they move. Their thrashing s-pattern motion resembles snakes and can be startling.
Once jumping worms appear, there’s no way to get rid of them. The only known way to manage them is prevention of spread. They can live in mud. Clean off your boots, shoes and other gear.
Jumping worms can be in bait or included in worm mixes used for compost. They can spread through plant sales, swaps and dig-ups, plus mulch, compost, soil and other items you introduce to your garden or landscape. Forestry extension professor and educator Angela S. Gupta suggests buying from reputable dealers and doing research first.
“Ask them, what are you doing about jumping worms?” she said.