Farmers got some bad news last week about an invasive species making its way into Morgan County.
The University of Illinois Extension Office said in a press release on Friday that jumping worms have been confirmed in the county.
Jumping worms were first discovered in Illinois in 2015 and have been spread across the state. As of Thursday, jumping worms have been confirmed in 38 counties and suspected in 6 more.
Jumping worms are relatively large worms, up to eight inches long. They have a dark body that is darker on top than the bottom and have glossy skin. As their name suggests, will jump, squirm, flip, and thrash around when disturbed and move similar to a snake along the ground.
They are heavy consumers of organic matter, and can destroy plant roots, deplete top soil nutrients, and alter water-holding capacity for soil. They can reproduce without mating and their eggs are known to survive into the winter. They are known to be extremely destructive in home landscapes, agriculture, and natural lands.
According to the extension office, there are no real viable options at this time for control measures. The extension office recommends that you clean tools thoroughly when moving from one site to another, use compost and mulch that has been adequately heated, and don’t buy jumping worms for bait, composting, or gardening.
You can monitor for jumping worms in your landscape by mixing a third cup of dry mustard powder with a gallon of water. Pour the solution onto the soil. This will drive all worms in the soil to the surface within a few minutes. This practice will not damage plants or worms but will allow you to identify them.
For more information, see University of Illinois Extension’s Jumping worm factsheet at: https://go.illinois.edu/jumpingworms2021. If you think you found jumping worms, bring a sample to your local Extension office for identification.