Why did the worm cross the road?

…To get to the other side. Of course.

All the rain we’re having is causing the earthworms to crowd the sidewalks and driveways. They fling themselves out of the ground and onto the pavement because they’re drowning, right?  Nope. Urban myth (by the way, why are there no Rural Myths?).  The punchline is not too far off: they can only move about above ground while it’s raining. They use rain events to safely relocate, and can allegedly live for a while in a puddle.  But we all know what happens when the sun comes out…crispy Ramen time.

I had just come in from flinging a bunch of worms off the pavement in front of our building – they were going to get mashed or eaten by robins otherwise. I probably put them right back from whence they came, against their earthwormy wishes.

Portrait of Two Worms
– by H.L. Scoggins

Then I read Bert’s post…it’s like reporting that the Easter Bunny has rabies or something. I’ve always been delighted to see earthworms, under any conditions. To the point of saving their squirmy little lives whenever possible.
Not sure what to think about this new bit of information.

6 thoughts on “Why did the worm cross the road?”

  1. I like earthworms, too, Holly. I’ve drowned my share on fish hooks but really prefer them in my garden or compost piles. The earth changes. Sometimes man (or woman) brings about major changes, but often Mama Nature mixes things up instead. Could it be that the northern forests were originally (whenever “originally” was) more like what’s happening now? Were there ever earthworms there in the past? Lots to ponder about what is beneficial and what is harmful, besides us. (I can just see you out there “flinging” earthworms! “Can’t save all the starfish, but I can save this one, and this one, and…”)

  2. Here’s how I’m inoculating my Easter Bunny: If I understood the linked articles in Bert’s post correctly, the worms are bad in areas that were under glacial ice during the last ice age, since the forests since then evolved without them. So, since southern PA and all of VA were not under ice, our forests should not be as affected by them, as MN and MI – our native worms weren’t killed off by the ice, so we can still like them without feeling guilty. That’s the way I’ve rationalized it anyway.


  3. “Easter Bunny has rabies” ?!? I’m am NOT telling my kids that !

    So are earthworms native to CA ? No glaciation, but we did have an inland sea eons ago…

  4. Ray, thank you, I feel better now. I feel even better to not live in the Arctic North i.e. Minn. I didn’t have time to read the entire expose. And Sandy, I forgot to mention the immense usefulness of putting night crawlers on the working end of pole. Maybe that’s what this chap should be recommending. I flung with gusto, BTW 😉

  5. Holly, you took me back. I started flinging earthworms off the sidewalks myself when I was a little girl. It hardly rains out here in the desert and as soon as the rain was over I’d go on patrol around the neighborhood “saving” the worms.

  6. An interesting theory. I can’t argue because it makes sense that earthworms would take advantage of the wet conditions to travel. I believe they sense the changes in weather pressure ahead of time and want to escape a possible impending heavy rain. I have had them survive submerged in water for 24 hours so it’s a bit hard to know.

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