YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With the gardening season approaching, there are some precautions you can take to make sure invasive pests are not getting into your garden bed.
Although many worm species can be essential for a healthy garden, there are some that can harm your plants. Armyworms, jumping worms, and nematodes are just a few that you may want to watch out for.
Grubworms, cutworms, and hornworms, for example, are caterpillars that feed on live plant roots and leaves rather than dead material.
There are ways to remove and prevent these invasive worms from entering your garden, and the answer may not always be something you can buy.
“One of the most effective ways of controlling and managing invasives in your garden is simply scouting. If it’s just one passing through, maybe it’s not time to employ those control measures. But if you’re starting to see damage to your plants or damage to your garden crops because of insect pressure, that’s when you can start employing those management options,” said Haley Shoemaker, Agriculture and Natural Resources educator with the Ohio State University Extension.
According to Fine Gardening, there are no legal products currently available in the United States to get rid of jumping worms. You would have to check your garden and manually remove them.
If you see worm castings (droppings resembling ground coffee) in your garden but don’t find any adults, you can try to force them to the surface. Mix 1/3 cup of ground mustard seed with a gallon of water, and pour this over the suspect area. This will help get the worms to rise to the surface faster than plain water.
Land flatworms are also among the most invasive type of garden creatures. There are over 900 different kinds.
Environmentgo.com says, “This predator is reported to attack and consume things 100 times larger than itself in addition to eating snails and earthworms.”
You should avoid using chemicals to kill them, but using salt or hot water works fine. Citrus oil and vinegar can also help.
Root-Knot Nematodes are a type of microscopic roundworm. They feed on plant roots. This can cause infected plants which develop slowly and are more prone to wilting. This can be hard to catch since they are not easy to see. If you notice your plants continue to die, despite proper care, they may be feeding on your plant roots. In some worst-case scenarios, you may have to completely remove your topsoil.
You can prevent them from returning by incorporating some repellent plants such as French marigolds and painted daisies, into your oil.
There are different ways to prevent and treat invasive worms. You can read more about each one on Environmentgo.com.
Shoemaker says OSU Extension offers a free plant and pest clinic from April through October to help answer questions or identify insects and garden samples. You can take advantage of this by visiting their office at 490 S Broad St, Canfield, or calling 330-533-5538.