In the Santa Clara Community Garden last year there was discussion of an invasive worm species showing up in some garden plots (crazy jumping worms, read more below). We suggest that this year gardeners make an assessment of the worm populations in their growing areas. A lot of worms, generally, is good! Doing a worm survey would be a super-fun thing for kids of almost any age to help out with! Here’s how to do a worm survey:
Earthworms are classified by where they live in the soil layers. There are “litter dwelling worms” top-most in leaves and debris (called Epigeic), upper soil-dwelling (Endogeic), and deep burrowing earthworms (Anecic). It’s also important to try to distinguish between adult and juvenile worms.
This downloadable PDF describes the main worm types and how to perform a worm count in about an hour. Again, a great way for kids to get dirty!
And this PDF is a tally sheet to record your worm counts.
You might find this video helpful, too. It’s from the UK, but hey…
If you can, please take pictures of your collected worms to share with the assessment team. When you have finished your survey, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will collect the data from you. Also, anyone in Santa Clara or beyond is welcome to collect and submit a report. Just let us know where you’re from, and include contact information.
Jumping worms, known also as Asian jumping worms, crazy worms, Alabama jumpers and snake worms, are invasive earthworms. Native to eastern Asia, they present challenges to homeowners, gardeners and forest managers. Jumping worms get their name from their behavior. When handled, they violently thrash, spring into the air and can even shed their tails to escape. They are more of a U.S. problem back east and in the midwest, but they are showing up here in Oregon, and even locally, in greater numbers.
This web page describes some ways to identify these troublemakers and the harm they can do. https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/crazyworms.shtml Don’t worry too much, but take lots of pictures so we can help identify your worms.
We definitely want to see lots of earthworms in our beds at the community garden, but we also want to determine if the crazy jumping worms are making an appearance. And besides, Citizen Science rocks!