As we get closer to plant purchasing season I thought it important to talk about the jumping worm.
There are no worms native to Wisconsin. However, those that have traditionally been here have beneficial properties for our soils. The Jumping Worm, which has recently invaded Wisconsin, on the other hand does not. The Jumping Worm is native to East Asia, reproduces and spreads quickly, damaging soil wherever they are found.
The Jumping worm was first found in Wisconsin in 2013
Jumping Worm (Amynthas sp)
European Earthworm (Lumbricus sp)
|Flop and wriggle vigorously when handled||Do not wriggle vigorously when handled|
|Clitellum (band) is white, smooth and flat||Clitellum (band) is raised and ridged|
|Body is dark, gray in color||Body is paler, pink in color|
|Reproduce rapidly – drop cocoons frequently throughout the warm months||Reproduce more slowly – drop only 1 – 2 cocoons per year|
Jumping worms do not need a mate to reproduce. Just one worm can start a population. Jumping worms live on the soil surface and ingest the soil, depleting it of nutrients. They turn good soil into grainy, dry worm castings (poop) that cannot support plant growth.
So far there is nothing known to kill the Jumping Worm or to stop the spread. The best advice that has been given is to collect as many as you can find (but be careful as their tail can detach, its a defense mechanism) and place them in a plastic bag, seal, and place in the sun.
Make sure you are washing garden tools with 10% bleach solution. Remove soil and debris from vehicles and personal gear before moving from the garden to another area.