Worms, Pacific Northwest
On Dec 24, 2012, l was walking through our woods, trying to get a photo or two of a red-tailed hawk. As I was slowly walking through the snow, trying to make as little noise as possible, keeping my eye on the hawk, l happened to glance down and to my amazement, the snow was covered by yellowish-white worms, there must have been hundreds of them. They were about 3 maybe 4 cm long and quite active. In all my years hiking the forests of Vancouver Island, l had never seen these little guys before. I was absolutely fascinated, to say the least. I was surprised at just how active they were in the sub-zero weather. Snow Worms.
The Snow Worm look quite a bit like Ice worms, except that ice worms are never found away from glaciers and are usually a much darker color, some that l have seen were almost black. These worms were at least thirty km from the nearest glacier.
So I forgot about the hawk and took some photos and a video of them headed home and started to do some research on them. Apparently, they are not normally very common, but for the last couple of years, they have been showing up in quite a few places on the Island. They are also showing up in Washington state and in a few places back east.
They are not a new thing though, They made big news back in 1884 in New York State, after a heavy snowfall, there were yellowish worms seen crawling out of the snow, this was happening in quite a few places and the worms were scaring the people big time. The story states that the worms seem to have fallen from the sky and were an evil or bad omen, some were saying that it was a foreboding of a cholera outbreak and others were saying that the worms would crawl onto humans and attack them by crawling into their rectums. There were stories that the worms would attack young ladies by crawling inside the uterus and eat the eggs stored there, making the ladies infertile. Apparently, the worms did not like hair and very seldom attacked men, women started letting their leg hair grow. It’s amazing how people could be scared back then.
Woodcutters from the forest said they saw these Snow Worms and the deer eat them right up as if they were really enjoying them. So you see they have been around before.
Recently, they were observed in Washington state and samples were sent to the Burke University and they were determined to be earthworms. Juvenile earthworms.
I will be looking into these worms and will post all l can find out about them here. If you know more about them, please write to me so l can inform my readers about them.