An invasive species of worm is making its way to the Midwest and becoming a threat to the states’ soils.
The culprit, the Asian jumping worm also known as the Alabama jumper.
Asian jumping worms, which include 51 species in the genus Amynthas including Amynthas agrestis and Amynthas tokioensis, are non-native to the United States and feed on leaf litter and mulch, and the soil they leave behind is dry and grainy-like coffee grounds, which deprives trees and other plants of essential nutrients.
Jumping worms in general is a major problem for gardeners and potentially farmers because they live in the top few inches of soil and vigorously consume many types of organic matter in that topsoil horizon, including plant roots. They are eating, living, reproducing, and defecating in that top soil layer which is what causes the trouble.
More details from AWM:
Besides causing harm to the ground across the Midwest, the Asian jumping worm is also just a creepy critter. While some people are terrified of all worms, this one can be particularly alarming. Although the name of the creature implies that it can “jump,” its movement is more of a twisting snap that looks about as creepy as it sounds.
According to a report on the Animal Channel website, the Asian jumping worm has made its way across numerous states in the heartland of America as of 2021. The states that have been invaded by this harmful worm include Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
It is recommended that you kill these worms if you see them in your garden or yard. They can steal all the nutrients from the soil so that local plants and animals no longer have food to survive. With no place to live, the local plants and animals start to die off, and their population gets depleted in proportion to how many of these worms continue to thrive.
If you live in one of the affected states, you can expose these worms in your land to get rid of them. Brad Herrick, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, suggests sprinkling a mixture onto the soil to get these worms to leave it and come out for air.
Herrick suggests getting mustard powder and mixing it with some water. Then pour the mixture on top of your soil and wait for the worms to come squiggling out of the ground. They can emerge as quickly as in thirty seconds.
The formula works because mustard powder irritates the worms’ skin, so they leave the ground and come out to get away from it.
The worms’ excrement changes the structure of the soil to what looks like coffee grounds or taco meat, which makes it harder for the soil to hold water and for plants to take root. Jumping worms also are known to push out other earthworms that are good for the soil, although it’s not yet known exactly why this happens.
Watch the video below for more details: