If you happen to observe gardening and agriculture information in any respect, you’ve gotten in all probability heard of Asian leaping worms (aka Large Asian Leaping Worms). Simply when the ruckus over Large Killer Hornets has calmed, now we have one other large invasive pest to fret about!

Asian leaping worms have been present in no less than 34 states and have been an issue all over the place they’ve been discovered. They seem like bigger variations of the strange earthworm, however they’ve a particular white band close to one finish (I’m not a worm skilled, so I can’t inform which finish). When disturbed, they’ll thrash wildly and may leap over a foot. This alone is alarming, particularly in case you’re utilizing them as fishing bait and so they maintain escaping.

Extraordinary earthworms are fairly mellow creatures. They eat natural matter at a leisurely tempo and go away nutrient-rich castings. They have a tendency to hang around within the prime foot or two of soil however can burrow to six toes in areas topic to chilly winters. This burrowing leaves channels within the soil, which aerates and permits water and plant roots to penetrate deeply.

Leaping worms, nevertheless, have a voracious urge for food and may devour natural matter at an especially quick tempo. When they’re launched right into a forest, they will destroy the leaf litter in a short while, leaving tree roots weak and disrupting the ecosystem of the forest ground. Once they digest this natural matter, they go away behind their castings (poop), which is remarkably nutrient-poor. These guys are environment friendly at getting all of the vitamins out of leaf litter, which is sweet for them, however not good for the forest or all the opposite organisms that reside in and feed on leaf litter. They solely inhabit the soil floor (since that’s the place their meals is) and don’t burrow like different earthworms.

Though they’re already right here in our gardens, we don’t need them in our forests since that’s the place they trigger probably the most harm. As gardeners, there are some things we are able to do to stop this.

Leaping worms can unfold shortly by hitchhiking in pots and plant roots. When doable, purchase compost or mulch that has been warmth handled. Warmth remedy will kill eggs, weed seeds, and dormant bugs, so it’s definitely worth the hassle.

If you happen to suspect that your garden has been invaded by leaping worms, you’ll be able to apply a mustard pour (add 1/3 cup of floor yellow mustard to a gallon of water). This can trigger the worms to emerge, making them simple handy decide, nevertheless it gained’t hurt crops or different critters. When choosing, place them in a plastic bag, seal it, and put within the freezer in a single day earlier than discarding. Don’t reduce them in half – they will regenerate and also you’ll find yourself with extra worms!

Soil solarization can destroy eggs and cocoons, in addition to some soil-born illnesses and weed seeds. Moisten the soil completely, then cowl with a transparent plastic sheet and weigh it down so it doesn’t blow away. The soil floor will warmth as much as over 100F, destroying leaping worm eggs. The earthworms will simply burrow deep sufficient, so solely the leaping worms will die.

In search of extra gardening tips? Right here’s easy methods to contact the Grasp Gardener program in your space.

Los Angeles County

mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/

Orange County

ucceocmghotline@ucanr.edu; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/

Riverside County

anrmgriverside@ucanr.edu; 951-683-6491 ext. 231; https://ucanr.edu/websites/RiversideMG/

San Bernardino County

mgsanbern@ucanr.edu; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/

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