Invasive jumping worms (Amynthas spp.) are spreading all across North America. The worms thrash wildly and move in a snake-like manner; their feeding produces granular castings that look like coffee grounds on the soil surface. The worms can be distinguished from nightcrawlers by their quick violet movements and the white band fully circling their bodies. You might hear them referred to as crazy worms or snake worms as well. Jumping worms leech out all nutrients, provide nothing for soil and plants, and outcompete other worms. They will leave your top layer of soil barren and crumbly which will ultimately leave your plants to die from malnutrition and not being able to root properly.
They originate for Asia and spread from contaminated compost and potted plants. To stop the spread, make your own compost and inspect potted plants before purchasing. Do not use jumping worms for bait or vermicomposting.
To kill any jumping worms that might be present in pre-purchased soil, it is recommended that you place the worms in a plastic bag in direct sunlight until the interior of the bag reaches 105 degrees. You should verify the worms are dead.
If you believe you have found a jumping worm in your garden, report it to 1-866-NOEXOTIC or file a report at EDDMapS.org/indiana and attach a very clear picture.
For more information, check out the below links:
One of the biggest challenges when managing invasive species is controlling the population before it goes to seed. Most invasive plants have hundreds or thousands of seeds each and once it releases them it exponentially increases the effort needed to control the population. This is especially important in newly established populations. Each viable seed that is allowed to enter the ground represents a potential new plant which will in turn produce seed unless stopped, therefore early management is key to reducing the spread and maintaining natural environments.
Although control methods and timing can vary slightly by species and geographic location, it’s generally best to either spray or cut invasive species in the early spring (March or April). This reduces negative impacts on desirable species while also ensuring the species is controlled before seed can be produced. Sometimes early spring control is simply not possible – maybe you weren’t able to identify it early on, missed a certain area, or were simply busy – that doesn’t mean all is lost. One possible method of slowing down invasion is to cut the seed head off, bag it up, and throw it away.
Before we start talking about how to control plants with mature seed heads it is important to understand what they are and how to recognize them on a plant. We are exposed to seeds regularly in daily life, but some seeds might not look how you would expect. It is easy to recognize sunflower seeds, bird seeds, or the seeds inside tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc., but take a look at these pictures to test if you would recognize where seeds are stored on these invasive plants.
Many herbaceous invasive plants produce their seeds in the late summer, making it ineffective to spray or mow which might spread the seeds even further, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still manage them. The best way to keep seeds from spreading in late summer on many herbaceous invasive species is to cut off its seed head or flowers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always practical or safe. When dealing with large populations or monocultures it is often easiest to simply spray the plant with herbicide until numbers are significantly reduced. As always, herbicide should be applied in accordance with the label using appropriate chemical application methods as outlined by Purdue Extension.In some cases – such as with Poison Hemlock - it is unsafe to cut the seeds off of a plant due to its toxic nature. For a more complete management guide regarding poison hemlock, please use this link from the Dubois County SWCD.
When cutting the seeds off a plant, immediately put it into a yard waste bag without walking around or shaking the seed off of the plant (this will spread the seed). Additionally, it is smart to use shears, trimmers, or a knife which is sharp to minimize shaking the plant. It’ is important to make sure that the bag is tied shut and there aren’t any holes or tears in the bag so that seed can’t escape and spread further. If your bag gets a hole in it or tears simply double bag it before disposal.
It’s important to remember that cutting seed heads off won’t kill the plant, but it does help to significantly reduce how fast it spreads to buy time until next growing season. A good practice after cutting seed heads is to spray the plant with an appropriate herbicide, this will kill the existing plant, opening up space for natives to colonize the area. After you have cut off the seed head and sprayed, cut, or mowed the plant to kill the plant you will need to keep an eye out for any new sprouts or missed seed heads and treat those accordingly.
Free Native Seed Packets for Hamilton County Residents
The SWCD has free packets of a quality 4 species native mix available at our office (limit 2 per person). Learn more about the packets here: https://www.hamiltonswcd.org/seedpack.html
Our seed packets include:
Lucy Carlstedt - Hamilton SWCD Conservation Intern
What is a Garden Tower? Located at the front entrance of our building, you will see a tiered terracotta-themed planter with a variety of produce and herbs. This is called the Garden Tower 2™, which features 50 different planting “cells”, presenting endless opportunities for virtually any type of plant, vegetable, or fruit you may desire. Additionally, there is a chamber that runs from the top level to the bottom, where you can put compost through the top and it will disperses down and throughout to nurture the plants.
At first glance it may seem tedious to water each plant, but the truth is that it’s a lot easier! You generously water all around the top tier and the existing plants intake exactly what they need. The remaining water filters down, and the process is repeated in each layer until it reaches the bottom. To ensure you’re providing enough water, check the bottom rows of the tower for dehydration and viability of the plants. This makes the upkeep very simple and practical.
How hot is too hot for your pet? With these hot summer days, it is important to listen to your dog and play with them properly to ensure your pets do not get heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Dogs cannot sweat like humans therefore their only way to cool down is panting. Even fans are not an efficient way to cool your dog down, they do not cool down your dogs’ body temperatures fast enough once on the road to heat exhaustion.
Avoid sidewalks and asphalt as shown in the diagram below, if the air temperature is 77 degrees the asphalt temperature is 125 degrees! A good test for the asphalt is touch it with your bare foot if it is too hot for you to stand on it is too hot for your dog. It only takes 5 seconds to burn your pets’ paws on the pavement. It’s safest to walk your dog in the grass as much as possible or wait till nighttime or early morning to walk.
Ticks are always a sign summer is here, it is important to know how to remove a tick properly from your dog to ensure you get all the parts of the tick. If you leave the head it can burrow into your dog and make them very ill. There are tools you can use to help ensure you get all parts of the tick off your pet. Educate yourself before venturing in heavily wooded areas.
And finally leeches, they have been used in medical practices since the 19th century. However, if they attach themselves to your pet you want to make sure to get them off before they make your pet sick.
Taking your pet to ponds/lakes/rivers to swim and enjoy the summer sun is not a bad thing the main point is to educate yourself on the surroundings and wildlife that may live in those spots.
The Indiana Native Plant Finder is a valuable database tool will help you choose garden-worthy Indiana native plants that fit your site and support pollinators. Originally focused on garden-worthy Indiana native plants and their relationships to pollinators, this database has grown to include many Indiana native species, including those that are wind pollinated.
The aim for this database is to provide gardeners, landscapers, restoration specialists, botanizers, school children, and the interested public with a reliable source of information about plants native to Indiana and photos showcasing their beauty.
The Native Plant Database provides the following filters to help with your needs.
plant type pollinator type
moisture container friendly
bloom color pollinator magnet
bloom season caterpillar magnet
plant height garden friendly
Check out the Indiana Native Plant Database here.
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