If you missed Brad Herrick’s (UW-Madison Arboretum) talk last week about jumping worms, here’s a few ways he mentioned to help slow the spread of this invasive species.
First and foremost, be aware and communicate.
Know the signs of jumping worms, and keep your eyes peeled for those signs in your gardens and local parks. If you do suspect jumping worms are present, talk with your friends, neighbors, and extension offices to spread awareness.
Obviously, don’t move worms!
Don’t move plants that may contain jumping worms, and certainly don’t use them as fishing bait. The worms can reproduce asexually, so a single worm can start an entire new colony.
Purchase plants, mulch, and compost from reputable, responsible sources. Make sure their staff knows about jumping worms and can tell you what measures they are taking to manage the issue.
Keep it clean.
Brushing off your boots and tools when leaving a park, garden, or natural area can prevent tiny jumping worm cocoons from traveling with you.
Lastly, be willing to experiment.
Although jumping worms have been found in the US for over 100 years, research on the biology and effects of jumping worms is just getting started. Researchers are studying ways to control jumping worms, such as heat, chemicals, and different types of mulch. Community scientists, like you, can help advance researchers’ knowledge by testing treatments on their own gardens and reporting back what was or wasn't successful.
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Photo credit: UW-Madison Arboretum