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Ask Extension: How to get rid of Asian Jumping Worms?


Q: Unfortunately, my garden was infected with Asian Jumping Worms last season after spreading mulch from a local mulch supplier. I was wondering if you have ever heard of success using Sevin [a carbaryl insecticide] before the worms hatch? 

A: Did you know? Asian jumping worms (Amynthas spp.) are an invasive species in Minnesota.  They are native to eastern Asia.  They live in the top few inches of soil in leaf litter on the forest floor, as well as home and landscape gardens, changing the soil texture to appear like coffee grounds. 

Why are they so bad for the environment? They strip the soil of nutrients and can kill plants. 
See a current map of confirmed jumping worms in MN on the EDDMapS invasive species mapping system

Also-very important--they should be reported to the Minnesota DNR. (See link below for more information.)

Here’s some of the information put together by the University of Minnesota Extension on Jumping Worms:

How to ID them

Some quick facts about jumping worms. There are no native earthworms in Minnesota, by the way. 
  • 1-1/2 to 8 inches long, similar in size to night crawlers
  • The collar-like ring called a clitellum is smooth, cloudy-white and constricted, about ½ down from the head.
  • These worms may jump and wiggle noticeably when disturbed, moving across the ground in an “S” pattern like a snake. 
  • Hatch in late spring and live for one season, laying their eggs in August.

Controlling jumping worms

There are no identified chemical means to eliminate Asian Jumping Worms, and no proven, research-based tools for controlling them. At this time, hand removal is the recommended method to reduce them. 

What to do if you find them in the garden? 

If you see soil that looks like coffee grounds or notice unusually jumpy worms in your mulch?
  1. Don’t move any material that might be harboring jumping worms
  2. Report any suspected jumping worms
  3. Dispose of the worms in the trash, not back into the environment. However, it’s unclear whether this will make a meaningful difference in your landscape.
  4. Don’t send this to your local yard waste site, unless they follow the process for further reducing pathogens in their composting method. That process makes sure the compost reaches high temperatures (131 degrees F or above) and involves turning compost piles on a regular schedule. This will likely kill jumping worms and their eggs. 

Resources

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Great Lakes Worm Watch

University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum
Research Update: Jumping Worms and Sleeping Cocoons


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