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

DNR asks Minnesotans to be on lookout for jumping worms in soil, mulch Photo: DNR/ courtesy of Beth Solie.

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: August 31, 2020 04:50 PM
Created: August 31, 2020 12:40 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking Minnesotans to be on the lookout for a new pest in gardens and lawns: jumping worms.

The DNR said this invasive species native to Asia can quickly degrade soil and damage plants and lawns.

Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator, said the worms turn rich soil into something that resembles coffee grounds and they eat plant roots.

To help Minnesotans identify the invasive species, the DNR has created a couple videos; one that explains how jumping worms are sometimes found in garden soils and mulch products and another that explains why these worms shouldn't be used as fishing bait.

Jumping worms are so named because they "wiggle intensely when disturbed and sometimes appear to be jumping," the DNR stated.

"The good news is, jumping worms are not well established in Minnesota and there are actions people can take to prevent their spread," Van Riper said. "We need gardeners and anglers to be vigilant and to contact the DNR when they think they've found jumping worms."

The DNR suggests the following:

  • Don't buy worms advertised as jumping worms, "snake worms," "Alabama jumpers" or "crazy worms" for any reason.
  • If fishing, dispose of any unwanted bait worms in the trash.
  • If gardening, inspect new mulch and plants for jumping worms and if swapping plants with others, wash off the soil and share the plants as bare root plants.
  • Those spending time outdoors should brush the mud off their shoes and equipment.

Those who believe they have located jumping worms are asked to send high-resolution photos of the worms via this website or by email, or call the department's information center at 888-646-6367.

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