The jumping worms are basically the new invasive worm species popularly recognized for their destructive behavior, making it important to be aware of them when landscaping or gardening. However, currently, there is no proven method for controlling jumping worms in the soil, so what is the best way to deal with them?
Read on to find Effective ways of avoiding jumping worm when landscaping and gardening!
Table of Contents
What are jumping worms?
Jumping worms, also known as Alabama jumpers, are a type of earthworm that was first discovered in the state of Alabama. They are part of a group of earthworms called Amynthas species, and they can be distinguished by their red coloring and their ability to jump.
In fact, these parasitic critters get their name from their unique ability to jump out of the ground when disturbed. They are a threat to landscaping and gardening because they consume large amounts of organic matter, which can lead to soil erosion.
These worms are also identified as Asian jumping worms, crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, and snake worms.
Jumping worm Basics
Earthworms come in different colors and textures depending on their species, so it is important to understand the basics of these organisms before taking any action.
There are a few ways to identify jumping worms before you start landscaping or gardening.
One way is by their body parts. Jumping worms have a clitellum, which is a band that circles the body and is used to produce eggs. It secretes a sticky material that helps the eggs and sperm to join together.
After mating, the clitellum slides off the worm’s body and leaves a fertilized egg mass behind.
Another way is to identify the jumping worms through the hues of their body. It is typically red or pink with a black band around its middle and has smooth skin. They also have segmented bodies and move in an S-shaped pattern.
Jumping worms have an annual life cycle in which they go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
These invasive worms are most active in the late summer and early fall when they are seeking food and mates.
Moreover, jumping worms can quickly increase their numbers. They can reproduce sexually or parthenogenetically, meaning that a single worm can create an entirely new population of worms. In fact, they grow quickly in the spring and outcompete other earthworms for food.
This can eventually lead to a significant decrease in the populations of other native earthworms, which can have negative consequences on soil health.
Therefore, to avoid unintentionally introducing jumping worms to your property, you should carefully inspect any plants or soil before bringing them home from the nursery or garden center.
When are these worms Found?
Asian jumping worms are an annual species that can be found in the late summer and fall. They dwell in the soil and feed on dead leaves and other organic matter. They can cause damage to gardens and landscaping by eating the roots of plants.
Why Are Jumping Worms considered Dangerous?
Jumping worms, also known as Alabama jumpers, are a new invasive species of earthworm that is causing a lot of damage to the environment.
The jumping worms are considered dangerous due to the following reasons:
- To begin with, they are endo-epigeic, meaning they only live at the surface of the soil or in organic matter. This makes them very difficult to control, and they can cause a lot of damage to gardens and landscaping.
- Secondly, jumping worms are not effective at aerating the soil, infiltrating water, and moving nutrients around as other earthworms do. This also adds to the problems for plants and landscaping.
- Furthermore, the castings (earthworm poop) of jumping worms sit on top of the soil where those nutrients are not available to plants, leading to nutrient deficiencies in plants.
- The burrowing behavior of these garden worms can cause erosion and disrupt the natural underground food web.
- Jumping worms also prefer leaf mulch with high nitrogen content, so it is important to avoid using this type of mulch if you are trying to keep them out of your yard.
How do Jumping Worms Spread?
Jumping worms are spreading quickly across different parts of the United States. They thrive in moist, dark environments with a lot of organic matter.
If I talk about the particular method of spreading, Well, the Asian jumping worms can spread by cocooning- a process in which the worm wraps itself in a protective layer of mucous and soil.
They can also spread through runoff, meaning that water carrying the worms can move them to new areas. This makes it essential to take care when landscaping and gardening near waterways, as well as keeping an eye out for any signs of jumping worms.
How to Recognize Asian Jumping Worms invasion?
Jumping worms are easier to recognize and distinguish from other worms when they reach maturity, but there are other signs.
For instance, according to research, worms found within leaf litter and mulch, or just a few centimeters below the soil surface, are most likely jumping worms.
Furthermore, based on their behavior, Asian jumping worms are the easiest to identify. In fact, there’s a reason these soil critters are called ‘jumping’ worms; that is, they are extremely active.
Where a regular earthworm may move around in your hand, a jumping worm will actively flop around and try to escape, even detaching its tail.
In the absence of seeing the grubs themselves, the presence of jumping worms can be determined by their castings, which resemble coffee grounds or taco meat. Trust me, nothing else is producing that.
Effective Ways of avoiding jumping worm when landscaping and gardening
According to the available data, there is currently no credible control strategy for jumping worms, though studies on potential methods are being conducted. At the moment, the only effective control is to prevent their spread.
Therefore check out Effective ways of avoiding jumping worm when landscaping and gardening:
- Check plants for worms before moving them. If you see worms, remove them and dispose of them in a sealed bag. Another is to place them in a bag and leave them out in the sun for 10 minutes or more.
- Additionally, clean the tools and equipment after use and check for worms before putting them away.
- Do not transport soil or mulch from one area to another.
- When landscaping and gardening, avoid using tea seed pellets as fertilizer as they are a favorite food of the jumping worm. Other effective ways of avoiding the jumping worm include using mulch, composting, and repairing bare patches on your lawn.
- Make sure to clean any compost or soil before moving it to new sites. You can also bury food waste deep in the ground so that the worms won’t be able to get to it.
- When checking your property for earthworms, you can use a mustard solution to determine if there are any jumping worms. The worms will curl up and die when they come into contact with the mustard. If you do find any jumping worms, take action right away to get rid of them before they can cause too much damage.
- Using insecticides is one of the most effective ways. It’s important to read and follow the label instructions carefully, as each insecticide has unique guidelines on how and when it should be used.
- The last resort to help prevent their spread is to avoid landscaping and gardening around areas where there are earthworms, as they may be jumping worms.
Is there any way to limit the spread of jumping worms in a specific geographic area?
There are ways to limit the spread of jumping worms in a specific geographic area. One way is to create barriers between areas that have been infested with jumping worms and those that have not.
Another way is by cleaning soil off plants and removing any visible worms before they have a chance to crawl away.
Additionally, educating people on how to identify and report sightings of jumping worms can help prevent their further spread.
What temperatures can eliminate jumping worms and their eggs?
In order to stop the spread of jumping worms, it is important to know the temperatures that will kill the eggs. Jumping worm eggs die when held at 104°F (40°C) for three days. The eggs, on the other hand, will perish at 85°F (29°C)
In conclusion, since jumping worms are a new invasive species, there is much that is still unknown about them. However, preventing their spread is currently the only known effective control measure.
Ways to do this include being vigilant about not transporting soil or plants from one area to another and being aware of where they are located so you can avoid them when landscaping or gardening.