Jan Keys, our Horticulture Chairman, warned us to be aware of Asian Jumping Worms that could be in our gardens. They are lighter in color than familiar earthworms, have a band that goes around their body and they are very, almost hyperactive compared to regular earthworms. Unfortunately, they are incredibly invasive and destructive. They will literally eat all the organic matter in soil and will leave the soil looking like coffee grounds and there will be no nutrients left for the plants. They are not indigenous but often arrive undetected in potted plants, soil and are especially attracted to mulch. They can arrive in plants and/or materials that are bought or gifted. They group together and attack the soil nutrients. The best defense is being on the offense – look over the soil that surrounds plants as you prepare them for planting as well as any soil and/or mulch that you purchase for your garden.
Invasive jumping worms degrade topsoil by processing leaf litter, mulch or other organic matter rapidly, leaving behind a distinctive soil signature often described as resembling coffee grounds, which disrupts the soil food web. Credit…Susan Day/UW–Madison Arboretum