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Master Naturalist

Want to help wildlife in Illinois? Protect their habitat

By Carla Rich Montez, Extension Master Naturalist serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties   “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”  Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac Illinois was once covered by vast prairies and abundant forests that were crisscrossed by free-running rivers and streams. Today, we see a different landscape. Our state has fewer grasslands...
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Adding more blooms to your garden invites more birds

By Jeff and Nancy Staecker, Extension Master Naturalists serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties Over the last 20 years we’ve lost billions of birds – birds that are both beautiful and play critical roles in the environment… such as eating pests. We do not know all the complex drivers leading to the population decline of birds, but habitat loss is certainly part of the story. We know habitat loss decreases the availability of food for birds such as pollen, seeds, and...
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Stop the spread of jumping worms and other invasive species

Thoroughly clean tools, shoes, and vehicles when moving from one site to another. Only purchase compost, mulch, or other organic matter that has been heated to appropriate temperatures and duration to reduce the spread of pathogens, insects, and weeds. Jumping worm egg casings do not survive temperatures over 104°F Remove adult jumping worms.  Place adults in a plastic bag and leave in the sun at least 10 minutes. Dispose of the bag in the trash. Remove soil from all plants before...
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Best Practices for Sharing Plants to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

Only accept plants... From gardeners that have looked for jumping worms  That don't come from an area known to have jumping worms. If there is no evidence (like soil that resembles coffee grounds) to suspect there are jumping worms at the site that produced these plants/materials. Use these practices to prevent their spread: Remove soil from all plants before transporting them This limits the spread of weeds and worms by removing most earthworm egg cases or weed seeds. Wash...
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Invasive Jumping Worms Confirmed in Peoria County

Originally posted April 15, 2021 Jumping worms (Amynthas spp) are an invasive earthworm probably brought into the country as fishing bait. They go by many names, such as crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, or snake worms. These worms are known to change the soil structure, deplete available nutrients, damage plant roots, and alter water-holding capacity of the soil. This is especially a concern in our forests, where organic matter is limited. It is important to stop the spread of jumping...
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