Jumping Worms Make Their Way to Iowa

Aug 3, 2018

Iowa has a new invasive species, the jumping worm, and it spells bad news for soil health. According to Iowa State University extension entomologist Donald Lewis, the worms have been in New England for a decade. They are also found in Iowa's border states, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. 

"It is an earth worm. It looks like all the other earth worms. A long tubular body, and lots and lots of segments, lots of wrinkles between the body. This one is darker. A mature earth worm has a collar or a ring around the body. In a regular night crawler and/or garden worm, that is a raised structure that is pink in color. On the jumping worm, it’s smooth, and it’s white.

They writhe and squirm, and they jump.

"When they are distributed, they will jump off the ground," Lewis says. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Lewis talks with host Charity Nebbe about this worm that turns healthy soil into the consistency of coffee grounds. Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens also joins the show to answer listener questions.