The Lake Wissota Garden Club of Chippewa Falls, WI
After much discussion and with regret the Lake Wissota Garden Club of Chippewa Falls announces our decision to cancel our annual plant sale held the first weekend of June. For over 35 years this has been a tradition for us and the Chippewa Valley area gardening community. We loved sharing cuttings and divisions from our gardens as well as from many area community member’s gardens. It was this willingness to share that made this not only a successful fund raiser for our club but provided a cost effective means for area gardeners to improve their own gardens.
The invasive Asian jumping worm (Amynthus sp.) is the culprit that has cancelled this years and possibly all future plant sales. This invasive earthworm has been gradually spreading up from southern states after being introduced from Asia. It has been in southern Wisconsin since 2013. Last year it was identified in Eau Claire, Menomonie and the Wausau area. Aptly named, the jumping worm thrashes, slithers like a snake and jumps into the air when disturbed. It prefers the top 5-6 inches of soil so the adults are easily seen. The life cycle of this worm contributes to its spread. The adult worm lays its eggs in the fall and then dies. The eggs or cocoons are extremely small appearing like grains of soil and survive the Wisconsin winters. They do not hatch until late June or early July making it very difficult to know if the gardens we obtain plants from are infected. The cocoons can be spread not only with the plant but can be moved on shoes, equipment and in compost.
Although all earthworms are technically an invasive species the jumping worm is a definite threat to northern forests according to the WI DNR. The jumping worms reproduce extremely fast and eat the organic material in the top layer of soil unlike the more common earthworm that lives deeper in the soil. This results in a dramatically changed top soil structure which affects the fertility of the soil and is a special threat to woodland forested areas.
The WI DNR has recommended that community sharing plant sales be cancelled until further research on the management of this invasive earthworm can be done. We are joining the fight to try and limit the spread of this invasive species.
You can find more information on jumping worms at dnr.wi.gov.jumping worms. Report suspected jumping worms at email@example.com
Lake Wissota Garden Club thanks you for your help over the past 35 years in funding our community garden projects, junior gardening club and horticulture scholarships.