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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




JUMPING WORMS

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JUMPING WORMS. Since about 2018, an invasive species known as the "jumping worm" appeared in eastern Iowa and began to affect topsoil in local wooded areas. According to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website, jumping worms, originally found in East Asia, made their way to the United States and were found in Illinois and Wisconsin starting around six years ago.

They first showed up in Dubuque and Muscatine counties and have since spread.

Jumping worms can be identified by the snake-like movements they make when disturbed, a behavior that earned them their name, according to the website.

All species of worms in Iowa are considered invasive, but jumping worms pose more of a threat, said Donald Lewis, an Iowa State University entomologist. Jumping worms live on the soil surface. Nightcrawlers and garden worms live in the soil, where they provide benefits of aeration of organic matter. They eat surface organic matter at a very high rate, reducing the surface layer of organic matter, which can lead to compaction and erosion. This endangers soil quality and will mostly effect sloped areas and woodland ecosystems — areas that are more susceptible to erosion.

Jumping worms can not be killed with pesticides, so there is no systematic way to stop them from spreading. If a person found jumping worms on their property, it was important not to move mulch, plants, or soil. That might spread the jumping worms.

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Source:

Warren, Seaton, "Jumping Worms Skip into Johnson County," The Daily Iowan, July 8, 2019, Online:https://dailyiowan.com/2019/07/08/jumping-worms-skip-into-johnson-county/