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.