Erin from The Impatient Gardener tells us about the Jumping Worm that is moving its way across the country. Not many have heard about this, myself included, but its not a good thing.
These worms, which hang out on the upper layers of soil, are massive digesters of soil. This is not a good thing. What they leave behind is loose soil resembling coffee grounds and largely devoid of nutrients. Give them a little time and they destroy the composition of the soil to the point where plants are no longer anchored.
They reproduce without mating, laying impossible-to-find cocoons in the soil that overwinter even in cold areas, and oh, by the way, they mature so quickly that two generations can be produced in one season. They do their damage quickly.
Read Erin's post about the invasive Jumping Worm here.
Photos from Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources.
Your pictures show a worm which is ready to "mate". That band around the worm is where the unfertilised eggs are stored. Two worms life sort of 69 ish in the upper part of the body where it is thicker and exchange sperm. Then later the worm sort of backs out of that band which then picks up the other worms sperm and forms a little enclosure till the eggs hatch. The process of exchange takes a little while. Long enough for me to be late for work on morning when I spotted two of them "at it" 🙂 and HAD to stay and watch.
Voyaristic I know but that is the only time I have seen it.
I've seen these - extremely beefy/muscular worms; not as long as night crawlers but super thick. I can understand that they may move the break down process too fast but wouldn't shouldn't they still leave the nutrients come through in their castings? Can't plants draw in what is needed faster? Probably pointless one by one but should we kill all we encountered? Are robins and other birds getting bigger meals with these worms? Better fed robins make more robins which seem to eat mainly worms.
Hi Jim, the problem is the castings change the soil structure so roots can't take hold. Trees fall over. thx!