Invasive snake-like ‘jumping worms’ are spreading in Indiana

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Jumping worms, which are native to Japan and Korea, arrived in the United States in the 1920s as fishing bait and as hitchhikers on imported plants and soils. Jumping worms first appeared in the Midwest in 2013 and have upended local gardens and lawns for several years turning rich soil into small crumbles ultimately depleting nutrients.

The jumping worms have been found in several counties in Indiana. Jumping worms live in the leaf litter and the top few inches of soil on the forest floor. They contribute to major forest ecosystem disturbance by negatively impacting soil structure and reducing plant growth.

A statement from Purdue University said:

Now that garden planting season is in full swing, make sure to take precautions against bringing in jumping worms with your plants. This invasive insect is spreading around the Midwest and can seriously reduce soil quality. There is currently no proven way to control jumping worms in soil once they’ve been established, so prevention is key.

Currently, there is no known prevention to jumping worms, however, an organic fertilizer used by golf course managers has been effective in eliminating jumping worms. The fertilizer made from tea seed meal irritates and eventually kills these worms when applied to the soil.

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