There has been many questions about jumping worms. If you have seen any videos showing these little devils, well, they are somewhat creepy. These are an invasive species to Minnesota. We do not have them here at this time. For those gardeners who live around the Twin Cities metro area, it is most unfortunate that they are dealing with these little critters.
Unlike our native worms who live within the top 6 feet, jumping worms live within the top few inches of soil. They also reproduce at a much faster rate, which is one of the basic problems that we have with these worms. Because so many live within the top few inches of soil, they are known to eat up the fine root hairs of all plants as well as changing the soil condition and structure. They are also bullies and will cause such a ruckus with other native worms that they end up leaving the area.
So, what is a gardener to do? The worms are very tiny and the eggs of these worms even more so. It makes them hard to see. The best thing to do is to make sure to choose plants whether purchased in a greenhouse or plants from a neighbor and even from a plant sale, is to make sure that you know where the soil is coming from that those plants are planted in.
Be careful to make sure that soil, compost and wood chips that may have been sitting on soil are free of these eggs and worms. If a bag is ripped, it is better to not choose that bag. If purchasing plants from plant sales, confirm with the organizers of the sale that the plants came from areas that are free of jumping worms. Remove all soil from all plants before transporting them as bare root plants. You can remove all soil and then place them into a container with sterile potting soil if needed.
It is important to share this information with your gardening neighbors and friends as most invasive species move around without our knowledge of them. At this point in time, there is no known treatment for these little creatures that can cause so much trouble for gardeners. As usual, with most invasive species, until they have been at a site for quite a while, it is hard to know that they are there. If your soil looks like ground coffee texture, then it will be important to not move anything from your yard into someone else’s yard by giving plants away or selling them.
The U of M Extension is looking for anyone who might have these creatures so they can talk with them in order to better understand this invasive species better and in order to find a treatment that could work to remove or control them. For more information on these worms and how to identify them, please go to https://extension.umn.edu/identify-invasive-species/jumping-worms
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