Minnesota Beware! Jumping Worms are Invading MN Forests & Yards
I always assumed that all earthworms were good for your soil. Maybe that was true until jumping worms were discovered in Minnesota in 2006. Jumping worms turn a healthy soil into "a sickly, lifeless mess that resembles cat liter or used coffee grounds," said Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Forest Ecology. Jumping worms are native to China. In fact there are no earthworms that are native to Minnesota as the glaciers of the last ice age would have killed them.
Jumping worms have been found in about 250 locations in Minnesota including the counties of Rice, Goodhue, Dakota, and Scott, just to name a few! Here is the link to a map of locations where jumping worms have been found in Minnesota.
Jumping worms have been found in homeowners gardens, lawns and Minnesota's forests too! Imagine having a garden where nothing will grow or a big dead spot in your lawn. So, how did the jumping worms spread to so many places in Minnesota?
Unfortunately, people spread the jumping worms unintentionally. All worms spread very slowly on their own. It would take 100 years to move a half a mile. "But they spread extremely fast when carried across town in mulch and yard waste and at leaf collection or compost sites," said Angela Gupta, a forester at the University of Minnesota Extension. "Their eggs and cocoons are about the size of poppy seeds, so they're really hard to spot, "she said. "and they're all within those top inches of the soil, so as we are raking our leaves in the fall, if a yard is infested, there's a high probability we're moving eggs.
Another way to spread their eggs is in bags of mulch or fisherman throwing unused bait that may be jumping worms into the grove or forest. To learn more about jumping worms click on the link above and listen to Extension Educator at the Rice and Steele County Extension office Claire LaCanne discuss jumping worms.