Invasive snake-like ‘jumping worms’ are spreading in New Jersey

Polarbear

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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 New Jersey. 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.

Mac Callaham, a Forest Service researcher with the USDA said:

Invasive Asian jumping worms got their name because of the way they thrash around. They can flip themselves a foot off the ground. Soil is the foundation of life – and Asian jumping worms change it. In fact, earthworms can have such huge impacts that they’re able to actually reengineer the ecosystems around them.

Currently, there is no known prevention for 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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