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Wrenshall News: Not all worms are the same

Jumping worm webinar set for April 29


April 23, 2021

Last week the Wrenshall kindergarten class did some great worm rescuing after so many got displaced by the rainy weather. The students read books about the life cycle of a worm, learned the names of their body parts and were able to study them up close with magnifying glasses.

The common earthworm has some surprises that might not be obvious given their bland beige exterior. They have five hearts and can live for up to 10 years. The myth that you can cut a worm up and it will turn into two, is just that, an old wives tale that was started because the head of the creature may survive and regenerate its tail if the animal is cut behind the clitellum – the raised band towards their head.

While we welcome earthworms in our farm fields, not all worms are good for the soil. The Carlton County Extension office is offering a virtual “community connects class” on jumping worms. These invasive species are far more dangerous than their jovial name suggests. Some areas that have been taken over by the jumping worm have soil that resembles coffee grounds, with plants unable to stand up straight in the loose soil.

The jumping worm lives in the top few inches of soil and alter the structure and chemistry

through their feeding and burrowing behaviors. Found in garden beds, mulch and compost piles and brought north through the sale of mulch and compost, they represent a threat to the health of our managed and wild landscapes.

Ryan Hueffmeier is a research, outreach, and education specialist with active projects in forest and landscape ecology and invasive species. He is the Program Director at Boulder Lake. For the past decade Ryan has been part of the Great Lakes Worm Watch program. He will be presenting a free zoom webinar on the jumping worms on Thursday, April 29 at 2 pm. You can register at

The presentation will be recorded for later viewing and you can find out more through the Carlton County Extension Office at 218-384-3511


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