The DNR is proposing to classify jumping worms (species in the Amynthas and Metaphire genera) as Prohibited Invasive Species under DNR rules (Minnesota Rules, 6216.0250). The Minnesota invasive species laws webpage lists currently classified species. Prohibited Invasive Species are illegal to possess, import, purchase, sell, propagate, transport or introduce without a permit from the DNR (Minnesota Statutes, chapter 84D).
See the Detailed information on Prohibited Invasive Species Rulemaking webpage for an overview of all the species being proposed, links to detailed classification summary documents and direct links to statutory information including definitions, prohibited activities and possible penalties. When new rules go in to effect, the DNR’s priority is education, to help people understand the new rules to prevent the introduction and potential spread of the species in the state.
Q: Why is this needed? What good will it do?
A: Jumping worms include multiple species in the Amynthas and Metaphire genera. Some species are known to be present in Minnesota while most others are not here at all. The species that are known to be in Minnesota are not known to be present in most of the state. The DNR jumping worm webpage and the jumping worm classification summary list the impacts of jumping worms including impacts to soils and plants. Jumping worms are currently classified as Unlisted Non-native Species, which means they cannot be released into a free living state, but without regulation as a Prohibited Invasive Species, they can be sold. Listing these species as Prohibited Invasive Species would stop sales of jumping worms, strengthen regulations to make sure that worm species that are allowed to be sold are not contaminated with jumping worms, and reduce the spread of jumping worms in the state.
Q: How do I tell jumping worms apart from other worm species? Is it even possible?
A: The University of Minnesota Meet the Jumping Worm webpage illustrates the differences between jumping worms and other common worm species. You can also learn more about other worm species on this Great Lakes Worm Watch webpage. Below are the main characteristics that can alert you that a worm is likely a jumping worm. If a worm displays all of these traits, it is best to treat it as a jumping worm.
- Actions: the worm thrashes about wildly, it can shed its tail if disturbed, it moves across the ground like a snake.
- Count the body segments: There are 14-15 segments between the clitellum (ring around the body) and the mouth. The main photo on the DNR jumping worms web page shows a worm with the white band (clitellum).
- Color: The worm has pigment (is brown). There are worms in Minnesota that mainly live below the surface and lack pigment and so appear white or clear or mottled.
- Life stage: Jumping worms hatch from tiny eggs in the spring. They grow over the spring and summer and are mature by late July or early August. Worms are considered mature when they have a visible clitellum which is a lighter brown/whitish ring around their body. If you are looking at a worm in April-June that is fully mature with a clitellum, it is unlikely to be a jumping worm.
You can also take photos and email them to [email protected] and we will get your photos to researchers who can confirm whether they are jumping worms.
Q: Since jumping worms live in soil, does this mean that the DNR would regulate all soil movement, similarly to how the DNR regulates the transportation of water in boats?
A: This rule is intended to prevent the introduction and spread of jumping worms. The DNR’s proposed jumping worm regulations would focus on the worms themselves and not translate to a regulatory authority over all soil or a prohibition of movement of all soil. If jumping worms are known to be present on a site, the DNR and others have best management practices to reduce the risk of spreading the species elsewhere.
Q: I have jumping worms in my yard, how would this rule affect me?
A: This rule is intended to prevent the introduction and spread of jumping worms. Buying transporting, or releasing jumping worms would be a violation of the rule. Below are additional details.
- You are encouraged to report jumping worms to the DNR. Reporting jumping worm locations helps us track the spread of these invasive species and understand where in the state they can survive. The DNR can aid in confirming correct identification.
- The DNR does not intend to require people who unintentionally have jumping worms on their property to be permitted by the DNR.
- You can dispose of worms in the trash.
- If possible, do not take jumping worms or potentially contaminated soil or material to yard waste sites, because jumping worm cocoons (egg cases) might be hidden in that material even if you don’t see adult worms. If possible, you can compost your own leaves and plant material on site to reduce the chance of spread. If you know you have jumping worms and you have such a high volume of leaves in the fall, for example, that you cannot maintain them on site, contact the yard waste site where you are considering transporting them and determine whether they use the Process for Further Reducing Pathogens (PFRP). It involves ensuring piles have met appropriate temperatures (131°F or above) and turning compost piles on a schedule. The PFRP can kill jumping worms and their cocoons.
Q: Can my garden club still have plant sales if this rule goes into effect?
A: Yes. People having plant sales should follow the University of Minnesota plant sale guidance.
Q: Does this rule change guarantee that plants/mulch/compost/wood chips/sod/plants/etc. that I buy will not have jumping worms in them?
A: There will not be a formal state inspection or certification program for jumping worms. The state provides information on preventing the spread and introduction of jumping worms. You can contact companies and ask if they are aware of jumping worms, what steps they take to prevent jumping worms from getting in their materials and whether they inspect their products for jumping worms. Suppliers can prevent the introduction of jumping worms to their facilities by using clean equipment and inspecting new materials brought into their site. They can check their products and site for jumping worms before selling materials. Compost suppliers can follow the process for further reducing pathogens to get the compost hot enough to kill jumping worms and their egg cases. The state will not be creating a list of worm-free suppliers.
Q: Could I use jumping worms as bait when fishing if this rule change goes into effect?
A: No. Possessing jumping worms would be illegal. Jumping worms could not be sold as bait worms. Jumping worms could not be collected from one area and brought to another for fishing. The common bait worms that are sold (nightcrawlers, angle worms) would not be affected by this rule.
Q: Will watercraft inspectors be inspecting my bait worms if this rule change goes into effect?
A: At this time, there are no plans to have watercraft inspectors examine bait worms as part of the standard watercraft inspection protocol at water accesses. The DNR and watercraft inspectors will continue to emphasize that all unwanted bait worms should be disposed of in the trash, as all earthworms are non-native to Minnesota.
Q: Does this rule change disposal recommendations for other unwanted bait worms?
A: No. The advice to throw all unwanted bait worms in the trash still remains. All earthworms are non-native to Minnesota. Any species of earthworm that was not used as bait should be disposed of in the trash. No worm species should be released to the wild.
Bait suppliers, dealers, and retailers
Q: Can I still sell angle worms or nightcrawlers as bait if this rule change goes into effect?
A: Yes. Common bait worms such an “angle worms” and “nightcrawlers” are different species (Lumbricus species, Aporrectodea species, etc.) than jumping worms (species in the Amynthas and Metaphire genera) and could still be sold. It would be illegal for suppliers, dealers or retailers to sell or transport jumping worms either on their own or as contaminants packaged with other, legal worm species. By preventing jumping worm contamination in bait worm species, it will reduce accidental introduction of jumping worms.
Q: Will conservation officers be inspecting my bait if this rule change goes into effect? What happens if someone reports jumping worms in bait I’m selling?
A: It is part of conservation officer responsibilities to enforce laws and respond to complaints. If you think your worms have been contaminated with jumping worms, please contact the DNR. The DNR can assist in identification and advice related to mitigating measures.
Vermicomposting (composting with worms)
Q: Can I still vermicompost with red wigglers if this rule change goes into effect? Can I still sell red wigglers if this rule change goes into effect?
A: Yes. Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) are a different species than jumping worms (Amynthas and Metaphire species). Their sale and use are not affected by these proposed regulations. By making jumping worms a prohibited invasive species, red wiggler suppliers would need to make sure that their red wigglers are not contaminated with jumping worms. It would be illegal for suppliers to sell or transport jumping worms. By preventing jumping worm contamination in orders of red wigglers or other worm species, it will reduce accidental introduction of jumping worms.
Yard waste facilities
Q: Will yard waste facilities need to change their practices if this rule change goes into effect?
A: Yard waste facilities are regulated under the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources cannot mandate yard waste facility practices. There may be cases where homeowners bring yard waste with jumping worms to yard waste facilities. There are best practices that yard waste facilities can follow when composting to prevent jumping worms from contaminating finished compost and then being spread throughout the community. Actions yard waste facilities can take include:
- When composting, following the process for further reducing pathogens (PFRP) should be effective at killing jumping worms and their cocoons. The PFRP involves heating materials to 131°F and maintaining the temperature over time according to one of the three methods of PRFP described in Minnesota Rule 7035.2836, Subp. 5, letter I.
- Keep finished compost separated from unfinished compost, so that worms cannot move to the finished compost.
- Your facility can do outreach to your customers. For example, after jumping worms were found at the Olmsted county compost site, they added information on jumping worms to their webpage and placed informational signage at the entrance to the compost site and by the finished compost.
- Wood that is chipped and used for mulch does not go through the high heat process used for compost. To prevent jumping worms from moving into piles of wood mulch, wood mulch can be stored in areas where jumping worms are not present, on pavement, and separated from areas where people are dropping off fresh yard waste. Regularly inspect mulch for jumping worms.
Nurseries, Landscaping companies, Sod suppliers, Garden centers
Q: What guidance will the state be providing to businesses if this rule change goes into effect?
A: The information below is a short summary of guidance for businesses. More detailed documents can be developed as needed in consultation with industry.
- Prevention best management practices include:
- Insist that equipment arrive at your site clean of soil that may contain jumping worms.
- If your staff work at multiple sites, train to “arrive clean, leave clean.” Clean off soil and debris from vehicles, equipment and gear before moving to and from a work area to another area, to reduce the chances of spreading jumping worms.
- Train staff about jumping worms and invasive species prevention.
- Inspect new materials for jumping worms before distributing them at your site.
- If bringing in compost, make sure the supplier has followed the process for further reducing pathogens.
- Inspect products for jumping worms before sale.
- Management practices to avoid spreading jumping worms around your property include:
- Remove and dispose of jumping worms and contaminated materials.
- Avoid moving those materials around between plots/pots.
- Clean equipment between different areas of your property but especially after working with materials known to have jumping worms.
- Actions to take if jumping worms are suspected or confirmed:
- Send photos to the DNR or University of Minnesota to confirm identification.
- Consult with experts on actions that are most appropriate for your specific case. Actions could be quite different depending on the type of business, location of the worms, etc. as shown in the following two examples. A landscaping company may focus on making sure equipment is cleaned before heading out to a client’s house so they are not moving soil from one client’s home to another client’s home.
- The state is interested in working with businesses that get jumping worms. The state can work with experts and the business to determine whether there are treatments or permits that can help the business remain viable.
- There are a variety of web resources for business owners, including the DNR jumping worm webpage, general invasive species cleaning guidance webpage, and the University of Minnesota jumping worm webpage.
Q: Will the DNR be doing nursery inspections if this rule change goes into effect? How would the DNR find out about jumping worms at my business?
A: The Minnesota Department of Agriculture does nursery inspections. It is not expected that DNR conservation officers will begin regularly inspecting nurseries. Jumping worm reports could come in to the DNR from sources including self-reporting, Minnesota Department of Agriculture nursery inspectors, customers who have received items with jumping worms, or other reporters.
Q: What happens if my business “gets” jumping worms? I need to sell or transport my soil or plants to stay in business.
A: The state is interested in working with businesses that get jumping worms, to have businesses continue while also not passing along jumping worms to clients. For example, changes to staging areas or increased cleaning procedures could also reduce contamination. The state can work with experts and the business to determine if there are treatments or permits that can help the business remain viable.
Q: How do I find out more about enforcement of prohibited invasive species regulations?
A: When new rules go in to effect, the DNR’s priority is education, to help people understand the new rules to prevent the introduction and spread of the species. You can view the following statutes and rules if you are interested in more detail on prohibited invasive species regulations. As stated in the previous question, the state is interested in working with businesses that get jumping worms, to have businesses continue while also not passing along jumping worms to clients.
- Minnesota Statute Chapter 84D has statutes related to the DNR and invasive species regulation.
- Statute 84D.01 defines prohibited invasive species.
- Statute 84D.05 lists activities prohibited activities and seizure rules relating to prohibited invasive species.
- Statute 84D.13 lists enforcement and penalty information.
- Minnesota Administrative Rules Chapter 6216 lists rules related to the DNR and invasive species regulation.
Q: Is reporting to the DNR mandatory if this rule change goes into effect? If a company finds they have jumping worms and they kill the worms in pots before shipping or selling, does the DNR need to be involved in any way?
A: Minnesota State Law (Statute 84D.08) requires a person to report the placement, release or escape of any non-native species into a free-living state within 24 hours of learning of the introduction. This report must be made to the commissioner, a conservation officer or another person designated by the commissioner. Should an individual or business discover the presence of contained jumping worms and is able to destroy the worms in such a manner as to prevent any introduction, they would not be required by law to make a report. Voluntary reporting in this case may be beneficial, as it can help the state track sources of jumping worms and provides access to expert guidance on managing jumping worms.
Researchers and Educators
Q: Can I possess jumping worms for research or educational purposes if this rule change goes into effect?
A: If you are collecting, transporting or keeping live jumping worms in captivity, you would need to apply for a permit to possess prohibited invasive species from the DNR. The DNR will assess the risks of your proposed project and may issue a permit to manage those risks. The DNR may also suggest alternatives for teaching people how to identify jumping worms.