Invasive jumping worms spread through Tennessee

Southeast

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Jumping worms are wiggling through several states, including Tennessee. The invasive species isn’t like your typical earthworm.

NewsNation affiliate WKRN spoke with Frank Hale, Professor of Horticultural Crops Entomology with the University of Tennessee about these jumping worms.

He said there’s a telltale way to spot these worms.

“They have a band around them. It sort of looks like a rubber band, if you’ve seen them. That area is more of a whitish coloration than a typical earthworm,” said Hale.

Jumping worms do not originate from the United States.

“They are from Asia. So, they are often called Asian jumping worms or jumping worms because they wiggle a lot. Not all of the species will do that, but they are pretty large worms, and they wiggle quite a bit,” explained Hale.

Hale said jumping worms are just one of many species which pose a threat.

“We have a lot of invasive pests – a lot of things that have come over from other countries. They all have a huge ecological potential to disrupt the ecology, and those effects everything all the way down to food. These worms grow faster and reproduce faster than a lot of other worms out there,” said Hale.

Jumping worms can damage roots of plants in gardens, forests and nurseries. Ben Trest is a landscape specialist at Bates Nursery on Whites Creek Pike in Nashville. He says jumping worms may have a unique source.

“It’s very different from our night crawlers that we get around here. There are a lot of worms used for baits and fishing baits that are not necessarily native to our earth. And then if we are dumping that bait on the ground excessively, eventually they can start a colony,” said Trest.

Trest does not recommend using chemicals to rid your garden of these worms. He said if you find a jumping worm there’s only one thing to do. “Getting them on a dry surface; getting them out of the moist soil. Where we are at in Middle Tennessee is just being aware, and if we do see it, then we need to start taking action.”

If you find a jumping worm, you can report it.

Hale told News 2, “Use your cell phone take a picture and send it to your local county agent. They can upload those to our district diagnostics site. There is no cost for that. All 95 counties have county extension personnel who can help you.

Jumping worms have been spotted in Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky.

To learn more about UT Extension, click here.

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