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Sturgeon Bay reports possible infestation of compost site

Jun 17, 2023Jun 17, 2023

The city of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, has reported a possible infestation of Asian jumping worms, an invasive species, in the mulch pile at its compost facility.

Posting on the city’s Facebook page July 6, Mike Barker, director of municipal services, writes that the city is working with the Door County Invasive Species Team and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to resolve the matter.

“Until the suspected issue has been resolved, we will treat the site as if it is infested,” Barker writes. “There will be no removal of mulch or compost from the city’s compost site. The site will remain open for those wishing to drop off brush and lawn waste.”

Jumping worms feed on organic matter in soil, leaf litter and mulch and excrete grainy-looking, hard little pellets, called castings, that alter the texture and composition of soil, says the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).

Besides consuming nutrients that plants, animals, fungi and bacteria need to survive, the resulting soil, which resembles large coffee grounds, provides poor structure and support for many understory plants, the WDNR says.

The WDNR says that high heat—any temperature above 104 degrees F—is enough to kill both worms and cocoons. In addition, covering soil with plastic sheeting can create a greenhouse effect, heating the soil.

Asian jumping worms also can be removed from soil and disposed in plastic bags, and biological insecticides also reduce infestation, says the WDNR.

Asian jumping worms were first confirmed in Wisconsin in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

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