There's a relatively new invasive species in Minnesota and the Minnesota Department Of Natural Resources needs gardeners and anglers to be on the lookout for them.

According to the DNR, invasive jumping worms are destructive and they can quickly degrade soils and damage plants and lawns.

“Jumping worms are a relatively new invasive species in Minnesota and they are a threat to gardens and forests,” said Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator. “They make rich soil more like coffee grounds. They eat plant roots, damaging garden plants and sod.”

Jumping worms are a type of earthworm and their appearance is similar to nightcrawlers and other earthworms.  However, they are different in that they wiggle aggressively when they are disturbed which can look like they are jumping. They also have a ring around their body, close to the head, which you can see in the video below.

These pests are Native to Asia and they've been in Minnesota since 2006, although mainly in the Twin Cities, western suburbs and in Rochester.  However, they have the ability to continue to spread by people moving potted plants, soil, compost, mulch and fishing bait.

It is against the law to introduce jumping worms into the environment in Minnesota.  They also make poor bait as they'll break into segments when handled by anglers.

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The DNR offers the following tips to help prevent the the spread of this invasive species:

  • Don’t buy worms advertised as jumping worms, “snake worms,” “Alabama jumpers” or “crazy worms” for any purpose.
  • Anglers should dispose of any unwanted bait worms in the trash.
  • Gardeners should inspect incoming mulch or plants for jumping worms and if swapping plants with friends, wash off the soil and share the plants as bare root plants.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts should brush the mud off their boots and equipment.

If people think they’ve found jumping worms, they should take high resolution photos showing the ring around the worm’s body in relation to its head and click here to report jumping earthworms via EDDMapS.org.  You can also contact the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.