Jumping worms are hatching and invading green spaces around the metro this spring

Mary Maier says she first noticed the invaders in the garden on the Loring Greenway last summer.

"They are quick, they wiggle, they jump," she said. "They are little pests."

She is talking about jumping worms, an invasive species that erodes the soil and destroys root systems, putting plants, flowers and trees in jeopardy.

"You spend a lot of time working in the gardens, you don’t want a little worm to ruin all your efforts," Maier said.

DNR asks Minnesotans to be on lookout for jumping worms in soil, mulch

Last fall there were more than 200 cases of jumping worms in the metro area. This spring, eggs are just beginning to hatch. Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology says he expects jumping worm numbers to grow.

"The biggest way they are getting around to different sites is community mulch piles. People bring in yard waste, it comes in from hundreds of locations and goes back out to hundreds of locations," Frelich said.

If you find a jumping worm, Frelich says you should not move the soil or plant to another location. Instead, take a picture of the worm and send it to the DNR for mapping and identification purposes.