Tomorrow is the holiday we call “Thanksgiving Day.” Even though the future seems a little dismal these days with all the uncertainty and undoing our federal government seems to be struggling with, there is still much to be thankful for in our personal lives. For me, the spectacular summer landscaping I was allowed to experience is something for which I’m very thankful. Another is the health and happiness of not only my husband and myself, but also family and friends. May this Thursday find you being thankful for many things as well, and looking forward to better things in the future.
Reference my earlier post on jumping worms inviting you to participate in a survey. Jumping worms,(Amynthas spp) have now been found in Winnebago County, just south of Outagamie County where I live. Here are a few more things you might want to know about this worm species:
- All earthworms in Wisconsin are non-native. While other Wisconsin worms are from Europe or Eurasia, the jumping worms are from southeast Asia.
- The jumping worms are darker in color than typical earthworms. They have a glossy smooth skin with a white band. Sometimes you have to flip them over to view the white band.
- They shed their tail when handled. They move like a snake reacting erratically when disturbed, including jumping. They have pointy mouth parts that act like a suction cup.
- They do not mate. Their young reach maturity in 60 days; two to three generations per year are possible.
- Because they live near the soil surface, the adult worms die in winter (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit), but the cocoons survive. The cocoons are very small and brown, like a clump of dirt.
- They produce a unique soil that looks like coffee grounds. Because it becomes so granular, the soil no longer holds moisture.
- Three species have been found in Wisconsin so far.
- Do not buy worms of the Amynthas species sold under common names such as crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, snake worms, etc.
- Clean your tools and shoes between sites; also, your car dirt.
- Don’t share or move plants.
- Check plants at purchase.
- Buy certified soil and mulch (that has been heated enough to kill the cocoons.)
- Currently, there are no known chemicals to kill the cocoons.
Test Your Soil
To test your soil to see if you may have jumping worms, add 1/3 cup of dry mustard to 1 gallon of water. Sprinkle on the ground and watch for all the worms and bugs to come out.
Wisconsin’s Forest Ecosytem
Wisconsin has a formidable forest ecosystem and much of our State is dependent upon the forest industry. European earthworms can damage forests because they eat dirt and decaying organic matter within the soil layers. But jumping worms eat mulch and plant roots near the surface. Thus they are a threat to ornamental plantings and lawn in our residential and urban areas as well.
You can Help WDNR
The jumping worms were first identified in Wisconsin in 2013, so the WDNR is just starting their research. To help the WDNR learn more about the jumping worm and to determine its spread, email or use the First Detector’s Network to report a sighting.
Thank you Sue Forbes for sharing your notes on this subject.
One of the organizations I list on my website is the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA). Since this is the time of year we’re out gathering seed, I thought it would be a good time to mention the PCA. The PCA is a public-private partnership of organizations that share the goal to protect native plants by ensuring native plant populations and their communities are maintained, enhanced and restored.
It is made up of Non-Federal Cooperators consisting of more than 300 state and local agencies and not-for-profit organizations and of Federal Cooperators consisting of 12 federal agencies, all interested in native plant conservation in America. Federal and Non-Federal Cooperators work collaboratively to solve the problems of native plant conservation and native habitat restoration, in an effort to ensure the preservation of ecosystems in America.
The basis of their focus is the National Framework for Progress in Plant Conservation and one of the strategies within that framework is the National Seed Strategy.
New Cooperators in PCA are always welcome! Joining is easy, and there’s no financial obligation. Your organization can be as involved as it chooses. Find out if your organization or agency is a part of the PCA.
For questions about the PCA or about joining, e-mail
This post was prepared with the assistance of Evelyn Williams, Co-Chair PCA Non-Federal Cooperators Committee, Chicago Botanic Garden
American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum tirlobum) —
I’ve had this shrub growing at the back edge of my prairie for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never really noticed it much. It’s in the hedgerow we’ve created to camouflage the industrial park that lies beyond our property. But this year there is a profusion of red berries which drew my eye to this shrub. Not sure why there are more red berries this year — all that extra rain, I guess….
Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) —
I’ve had this shrub growing in the front of my hedgerow for just as long, but over the past few years it has seemed to be dying out. But, oh no, not this year. Some of the shrubs came back, once again giving us that beautiful display of red stems that show off the white berries. All that extra rain, I guess….
Hedgerows typically consist of a tangle of trees and shrubs and forbs and grasses that yield seeds and nuts and berries, making it a complete ecosystem. Sometimes you’ll even find an old fence or stone pile somewhere in the middle to complete the habitat.
Most of the hedgerows that used to grow haphazardly around the countryside in America are now nearly a thing of the past. Because of the current emphasis on growing corn, every extra piece of land is being used for agriculture. So it’s up to us — the public — to provide as much habitat as we can for the birds and pollinators and mammals that depend upon it for a food source and nesting area and protection from the elements. If you can provide a stopover habitat for our friends who migrate or a comfy habitat for our friends who stay for the winter, you’re one of the good guys and we all thank you very much.
For more information go to Stopover Habitats and Hedgerows.