Jumping worms in Minnesota

photograph of a jumping worm on bare soil

Jumping worm

Header image credit: "Invasive earthworm Amynthas agrestis" by Tom Potterfield is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Jumping worms are a group of invasive earthworms (Amynthas spp.) known for their leaping, snake-like movement. They live and feed in the upper leaf litter layer of soil, often dramatically damaging its quality and nutrient content. For this reason, jumping worms can trigger erosion, threaten plant growth and decrease soil community biodiversity. 

Jumping worms have made their way across North America through composting, the fishing bait trade and by movement of potted plants and mulch. Minnesota is still in the early stages of invasion. This project enlisted citizen scientists in the Duluth, Rochester, and Twin Cities metro areas to learn how jumping worms are spreading in our region and how they might best be controlled. Researchers will create a best management practice guide for jumping worm infestations in Minnesota. 

Research questions

  • How do jumping worms spread in Minnesota? 
  • Does temperature limit where jumping worms could spread in Minnesota? 
  • Is commercial earthworm treatment effective for jumping worms? 
  • What are the best management practices for jumping worms in Minnesota?

Practical implications

The results of this work will help state regulators develop best practices to prevent the wider spread of jumping worms in Minnesota. Best management practices will also inform major industry partners like the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association.


The research team found that jumping worms are widely distributed in gardens and forest remnants in the Twin Cities, Rochester, and other metropolitan areas in southeastern Minnesota. The worms occupy places on the landscape with cool soil temperatures.  Jumping worms affect soil morphology which can lead to soil erosion and loss of plant diversity.


Coming soon

News and media


  • Minnesota Native Plant Society, 2022
  • Composting Council and yard waste and compost managers, 2022
  • Northern Green Expo, 2022
  • Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, 2022
  • North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA), 2021
  • Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, 2020

Research team

Lee Frelich | principal investigator

Kyungsoo Yoo | co-principal investigator

Ryan Hueffmeier | co-principal investigator

Stephan Carlson | co-principal investigator

Caleb Weiers | outreach coordinator

Tyler Baumann | assistant scientist

Erin Buchholz | collaborator

Angie Gupta | collaborator

Louis Goodall | MS student

Nick Partington | MS student

Shuai Wang | researcher


Lab or other website



Collaborating organizations

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association

Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center at UMD

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum