Beware of jumping worms in soil, gardening mulch

Jumping Worms Jumping Worms |  Photo: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Minnesota DNR
Created: September 01, 2020 06:08 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking gardeners and anglers to be on the lookout for invasive jumping worms. According to a press release from the DNR, the destructive worms can quickly degrade soils and damage garden plants and lawns. Officials warn they are not good as bait either, as they break into segments when handled.

“Jumping worms are a relatively new invasive species in Minnesota and they are a threat to gardens and forests,” Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator said in the release. “They make rich soil more like coffee grounds. They eat plant roots, damaging garden plants and sod.”

The DNR says the jumping worms are a type of earthworm that looks similar to other common earthworms such as nightcrawlers. They are called “jumping worms” because they wiggle intensely when disturbed and sometimes appear to be jumping. 

According to the DNR, the worms are native to Asia, and have been confirmed in limited areas of Minnesota since 2006, primarily in the Twin Cities and western suburbs and in Rochester. 

Officials say they may have spread throughout North America by people moving potted plants, soil, compost, mulch and fishing bait.

“The good news is, jumping worms are not well established in Minnesota and there are actions people can take to prevent their spread. We need gardeners and anglers to be vigilant and to contact the DNR when they think they’ve found jumping worms,” Van Riper said.

Steps that help:

  • Don’t buy worms advertised as jumping worms, “snake worms,” “Alabama jumpers” or “crazy worms” for any purpose.
  • Anglers should dispose of any unwanted bait worms in the trash.
  • Gardeners should inspect incoming mulch or plants for jumping worms and if swapping plants with friends, wash off the soil and share the plants as bare root plants.
  • Recreationists should brush the mud off their boots and equipment.

To help Minnesotans identify and report jumping worms, the DNR has two short videos on their website.

If you think you have found jumping worms, take high resolution photos showing the ring around the worm’s body in relation to its head and report jumping earthworms using, or contact the DNR Information Center at 
888-646-6367 or


The Minnesota DNR

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