Going to plant your garden and having worms jumping at you would be quite the shock. The Minnesota DNR shared last August that a new invasive species of "jumping worms" had made its way to Minnesota.

Jumping worms are a type of earthworm. They are called “jumping worms” because of their unusual behavior when disturbed – they move like a snake and sometimes appear to be jumping. A light-colored ring extends around the body and may be more prominent than in other earthworms.

The DNR shared that no breed of earthworm is truly native to Minnesota, and jumping worms are native to Asia. Their man modes of being spread are through the movement of soil. These worms create cocoons in late summer and those cocoon pods can be unknowingly moved with soil in potted landscape plants, sod, mulch, and compost.

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As you are gardening and doing outdoor projects this spring and summer, here are the indicators to look for to help identify these jumping worms from earthworms.

  • Soil that has the same texture as coffee grounds
  • Worms that move like snakes and secrete yellow mucus when agitated
  • The worm's tail will fall off as it continues to flail
  • The ring on adult worms is closer to the end than on nightcrawlers, milky pink to milky gray in color, encircles the whole body evenly, and is barely raised above the skin.

These worms pose a threat to Minnesota in the way they alter the soil. As mentioned above, the soil they create has a different texture than the soil earthworms create. They also eat mulch and strip topsoil of important nutrients. This can make it difficult to grow plants and even kill them.

If you think you found a jumping worm, the DNR is asking you to report it by emailing  laura.vanriper@state.mn.us, they ask that you try to get a clear photo of the jumping worm for researchers to properly identify it. A short video of the worm's reaction to being touched is also helpful.

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