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Beware of jumping worms in soil, gardening mulch

Globe News Brief jpg

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is cautioning gardeners and anglers to be on the lookout for invasive jumping worms, which can quickly degrade soils and damage garden plants and lawns.

“Jumping worms are a ... threat to gardens and forests,” said Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator. “They make rich soil more like coffee grounds. They eat plant roots, damaging garden plants and sod.”

Jumping worms look similar to other common earthworms. They wiggle intensely when disturbed and sometimes appear to be jumping. Native to Asia, they were confirmed in limited areas of Minnesota in 2006. It’s believed they were spread throughout North America by people moving potted plants, soil, compost, mulch and fishing bait.

“We need gardeners and anglers to be vigilant and to contact the DNR when they think they’ve found jumping worms,” Van Riper said.

Other steps that help:

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  • Don’t buy worms advertised as jumping worms, “snake worms,” “Alabama jumpers” or “crazy worms” for any purpose.

  • Anglers should dispose of any unwanted bait worms in the trash.

  • Gardeners should inspect incoming mulch or plants for jumping worms and if swapping plants with friends, wash off the soil and share the plants as bare root plants.

  • Recreationists should brush the mud off their boots and equipment.

If people think they’ve found jumping worms, they should take high resolution photos showing the ring around the worm’s body in relation to its head and report jumping earthworms using eddmaps.org, or contact the DNR Information Center at 1-888-646-6367 or info.dnr@state.mn.us.

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