Pick­erel­weed and Asian jump­ing worms

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - HOME & GARDEN - By Ellen Nibali

These flow­ers were a hot­bed of butterflie­s this sum­mer. They grow on the edge of a pond. Can I plant them in my yard?

Pick­erel­weed is a na­tive peren­nial wild­flower clas­si­fied as emer­gent, mean­ing it wants its feet in wa­ter. In wet­lands, it fa­vors a depth of about 12, which can vary but should not cover its leaves. Bloomtime ex­tends as long as June to Novem­ber, de­pend­ing upon your lo­ca­tion in Mary­land.

Be­sides butterflie­s, it pro­vides food for water­fowl, small mam­mals, as well as ben­e­fi­cial in­sects. Reach­ing 3 feet tall, pick­erel­weed grows hap­pily — even ram­bunc­tiously — in con­tain­ers or wa­ter gar­dens, so con­sider try­ing that. Soil can be sandy, loamy or clayey.

Just vis­ited a very con­cerned neigh­bor who is find­ing loads of worms in leaf lit­ter. They slither when ex­posed but not cer­tain if they are the in­va­sive new ‘Jump­ing Worm’ that de­stroys soil and is found in the up­per layer of soil or mulch. Please ad­vise on iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and any mea­sures to take to elim­i­nate them.

Thank you for keep­ing an eye out for in­va­sive species. Asian jump­ing worms don’t im­prove, but rather de­grade, soil mak­ing it dif­fi­cult-to-im­pos­si­ble for plants to grow in it. They leave soil look­ing like cof­fee grounds.

Asian jump­ing worms were first recorded in Bal­ti­more in the 1930s, so they aren’t al­to­gether new, but care­less dis­posal of fish­ing bait worms and shar­ing/mov­ing plants with in­fested soil at­tached spreads them.

They do not spread quickly on their own, so iden­ti­fy­ing them and stop­ping spread is im­por­tant. Look at the band (clitel­lum) on a sus­pect worm. On a nightcrawl­er, it will be raised and not ex­tend all the way around. On a jump­ing worm, it is lighter col­ored, flush with the body, and en­tirely en­cir­cles the worm.

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture is not cur­rently reg­u­lat­ing or track­ing Asian jump­ing worms. Penn State and Cor­nell have jump­ing worm fact sheets on­line, in­clud­ing tac­tics to flush them out and erad­i­cate them.

Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion’s Home and Gar­den In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter of­fers free gar­den­ing and pest in­for­ma­tion at ex­ten­sion.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Mary­land’s Gar­den­ing Ex­perts” to send ques­tions and photos.


Pick­erel­weed is a na­tive peren­nial wild­flower that grows in wa­ter and at­tracts butterflie­s and other wildlife.

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