Menace worms its way into North Park, causing destruction along the way
By the time North Park workers noticed, the damage was done.
An area of forest floor is bare of flowers, ferns and understory growth because invasive worms stripped the upper soil layer of nutrients that plant seedlings need, said Meg Scanlon, an interpretive naturalist at North Park's Latodami Nature Center.
“They've probably been here for years, and we never knew it,” Scanlon said.
The invasive earthworms will consume even the roots of small plants, she said.
Chelsea Carver, 14, documented 12 types of invasive worms in the park — including Asian jumping worms, which eat more, multiply faster and cause more destruction than other worms, she said.
Carver, who conducted other science projects for the nature center, approached Scanlon for a biology project to tackle in her free time in June, and Scanlon asked her to study the worm problem.
“It also causes (other) animals to have to move to other locations,” Carver said. The worms consume leaf litter that otherwise would be food for native creatures.
Scanlon said most invasive species have no natural predators or natural controls. The invasive earthworms are not native to Pennsylvania, she said.
Worms purchased by homeowners for use in composting can spread to neighboring areas, she said, but worms likely got to the park through people fishing at North Park Lake and dumping unused bait onto the ground.
As part of her study project, Carver designed a sign that directs fishermen to discard unused bait in trash cans.
The sign has a QR, or quick response code, that takes visitors with smartphones to the nature center's website. It has information Carver provided about the worm problem.
Allegheny County will make 15 to 20 metal signs and place them around North Park Lake.
Park employees discovered damage from the earthworms last spring, Scanlon said.
“There's no new trees or understory growth where these worms exist. And pairing that with the deer impact and the other invasive plant species, like barberry, you know, our forests are at severe risk,” she said.
Terrence Willis, 46, fished with his wife, Tanika, 39, and their two daughters, LeQuay, 15, and Zaria, 11, on Sunday at North Park Lake.
The McKees Rocks family always donates unused bait, usually night crawlers, to other fishermen, Terrence Willis said.
“We never throw anything away,” he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pa. police departments worry order on criminal seizures hurts bottom line
- Federal grand jury indicts man for violating poultry law while operating illegal slaughterhouse in his Jefferson Hills home
- Pa. Turnpike claims software fraud, wants $45M
- FTC chief Brill calls on companies to protect privacy online
- Fitzgerald nominates mining industry businessman for Finance and Development Commission
- New Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan institutes Wolf’s gift ban at commission
- Penn Hills water main break creates car-swallowing sinkhole
- Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to host humanities festival
- Propel Braddock Hills High School to install metal detectors, superintendent says
- Pittsburgh cracks down on overcrowded houses
- Storm could drop 4-6 inches of snow on Pittsburgh area