Snow Worm

The first time i saw a Snow Worm was 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 looks 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.

Snow Worm, Vancouver Island, BC
Snow Worm, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

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.

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4 thoughts on “Snow Worm”

  1. Today for my first time living here in since 82 ,Revelstoke BC I spotted snow worms. Today’s weather is very mild, a day following two days of precipitation. Simple amazing to see this little creatures. I can remember when we moved to Revelstoke the the “Snow worm” was a mascot of winter festivals. Just a coincidence this happens on Canada’s Ground Hog Day??? The worms were to low profile for any kind of shadows.

  2. Its almost the end of winter here and I went out to get some dishes from the bathroom. I was looking at the snow cuz it was raining, I moved my hand over the snow and a little worm crawled out and as i look around the ground is covered in them. I was alittle suprized and abit scared the they could be harmful if my dog had eaten them. Thats basically why I’m here. This page was informative and im glad there just baby worms ^~^

  3. I have lived on a commercial orchard for 14 years in Hood River Oregon. Over the years I have observed these worms after particular snow events. Just this morning I went out and saw them all over the snow and was once again totally intrigued by this phenomenon. I have asked other growers about it and they claim no knowledge of it. I suspected they were juvenile earthworms but had no evidence of it and couldn’t figure out why they were suddenly on top of the snow and why conditions precipitated such a “migration”. Glad to hear I’m not the only one fascinated with this event.

  4. My wife and daughter saw these worms in the backyard, Sammamish, WA, on top of the snow from the week of snow, Feb 10th, 2019.

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