ST. LOUIS — Illinois and Missouri are two of 34 states with invasive jumping worms.
The closest place to St. Louis where they were discovered is Madison County, Illinois.
Native to East Asia, the worms are glossy gray or brown with a white band, and they flap and leap in the air.
Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman Dan Zarlenga explained that this species of worm was first introduced for anglers. He said reports of jumping worms in the state have come primarily from northern Missouri.
“They’re a slightly bigger problem elsewhere in the country and with mobility and everything we have these days and all the trade and commerce and all that, we have to look out for something that could possibly get worse in the future.” said Zarlenga.
These worms are good for aerating the soil, but they consume a lot of organic matter, making it difficult for the soil to hold water. They also reproduce much faster than worms native to Missouri. Zarlenga said they become sexually mature around 60 days after hatching. Worms can also reproduce themselves.
Jumping worms are drier than ordinary worms. They could also have an iridescent sheen and be darker on top and lighter on the bottom. Native to Missouri, worms and jumping worms both have a clitellum that is like a collar behind the head. The clitellum of native worms is thick and conspicuous, while the clitellum of jumping worms is smooth, the same size as the body, and whiter than the body. The movement pattern of the jumping worms is also a distinction. They have a snake-like movement.
Jumpworms’ tails detach from their bodies when caught. The best way to get rid of them is to enclose them in a plastic bag, leave them in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, and then throw them in the trash. Zarlenga said people shouldn’t put them back in the ground once they’re dead.
There’s also slight concern that the invasive species will end up in plants sold in nurseries, which then make their way into home gardens and local parks. Zarlenga said they can also spread via communal compost heaps and bait dumping. Anglers should deposit their bait somewhere where it will end up in a landfill. It’s also a good idea to sterilize garden tools with soap and water or a detergent after use.
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https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/how-missourians-can-prevent-invasive-jumping-worms-from-spreading/ How Missourians Can Prevent the Spread of Invasive Jumping Worms