Scientists search For Giant Earthworms in Idaho

July 12, 2009

Idaho (ChattahBox) – A new study is being conducted in an attempt to seek out the nearly-legendary giant Palouse earthworm, which researchers have been searching for, for years.

The worms have been mentioned in documents dating back to the late 1800’s, but have rarely been seen. It wasn’t until 2005 that a viable specimen, 6 inches long and a creamy white, was captured for study.  That would just be a baby though if you believe sightings of worms of 3 feet described in the late 1890s.  The story goes, that when touched, their body secretion smells like Lily, and they spit at predators when attacked and are known to live in burrows that are about 15 feet deep.

In this new research project, scientists hope to find more of the creatures, and find a way to study and protect them. This includes asking for an endangered species label for the all too rare giant worms.

But so far there has been no luck for the research team. Led by Professor Jodi Johnson-Maynard, the team has found nothing but regular-sized earthworms in their searches, but hope that with their new methods the may have some success.

All three methods are more or less meant to bother the worms into showing themselves. The first is sifting through soil pulled from 15-foot deep holes, the second is the use of vinegar and mustard to cover the ground and force the worms up, and the third is the use of low-volts of electricity to shock them from the ground.

But the local farmers aren’t that happy about the research, which is being conducted in a largely rural area covered in crops.

“The concern is whether a listing is going to end up curtailing farming activities. I don’t know if people plan to stop all farming for the possibility of a worm being somewhere,” Washington State Farm Bureau’s Dan Wood was quoted by the Associates Press.


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