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How to Charm Worms Out of the Ground

The art of worm grunting

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There are a few tried-and-true ways to get worms for fishing: wake up at the crack of dawn and try to catch them on the dew-covered grass, or buy a can, either from a bait and tackle shop or from one of those converted soda can machines. But there's another way to catch worms: get them to come to you.

How? Worm grunting.

In the video above, the Associated Press' David Heller took a visit to some worm grunters working in Tate's Hell State Forest in northwestern Florida. When the grunters rub a metal bar against a wooden stake that's been driven into the ground, worms seem to spring from the soil. It seems like magic, as if the worm grunters are really worm charmers. But behind it all there's a scientific explanation.

According to Modern Farmer, worm grunting works because the vibrations created by the metal and wood sound, to worms, like the sounds of a hungry mole. The best worm grunters are those who can do the best mole impressions. Upon sensing the vibrations, “The worms head to the surface for self-protection. Unfortunately, they’re fleeing right into the eager hands of the people who sell them for freshwater fishing bait.”

Yet a stick and a metal slab aren't the only tools for grunting, says Modern Farmer. Elsewhere in the world “[s]ome people stick chainsaws in the ground. Some use pitchfork tines or saw into a sapling to create the necessary vibrations. The U.K.’s 10-year-old Sophie Smith obtained the Guinness World Record for most worms charmed by sticking a fork in the ground and moving it around.”

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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