75: Worm Charming
This episode will have you outside with a sharpened stake, a hammer, a slab of metal and an empty coffee can. That’s right, we’re going to be talking about charming worms right out of the ground and explaining the science behind how it works. ‘Cause it DOES work and you’re going to want to try.
Worm Charming aka worm grunting http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/10/21/2396935.htm
Seagulls tap dancing on dirt to scare up worms. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N93bKtWB6w
Welcome to Brain Junk. I’m Amy Barton, and I’m Trace Kerr and it’s time for a Brain Storm.
TK: So I have some truly stellar show notes for this little brainstorm. And it all centers around a video that Zo sent me on Instagram. Seagulls tap dancing on dirt to scare up worms. She was like, have you ever seen this? And it’s a regular looking seagull, you know, white and gray and it’s in grass, but it’s tamped down the grass to where it’s bare dirt and it looks like it’s doing a tap dance. It’s just Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. You want put flamenco music in the back, kind of back, back and forth, back and forth. And the title underneath said, seagull making it sound like rain. So worms, worms will come to the surface. And I said, I don’t know about that. So what are the seagulls doing when they’re tapping their little feet? They’re creating vibrations and the worms are coming to the surface. And a lot of people thought that the sound is mimicking rain. So if you put in the seagull thing, one of the first thing that comes up is something called worm charming.
AB: Ooh, I liked that.
TK That he goes to the warm charmers. They are worm. Charming. Oh yes. And then also people can worm charm or as we like to call it, worm grunting.
AB: I am for sure right now in my real life, my son will be late. As soon as he listens to this, he’s like, we’re going to go do some warm, charming. We have to go make this happen.
TK: You have to try worm charming that people do. You drive a wooden stake into the ground and you have a piece of metal, 10 pounds of metal. It looks almost like a wood file. And they get on their knees and they run rump across the top of the wood.
TK: Yes. And you can see the ground around the base of the wood vibraver yeah, there’s shivering in the thing.
TK: Yeah. And then they call that a roofing iron. So they’re running that across the top to create this warbling sound. And I am not kidding. Hundreds of worms come to the surface if you’re in the right place.
AB: I kind of want to try this now.
TK: And there’s, there’s a worm grunting festival in Sop chupy Oh Gosh, sorry Florida. That dates back a hundred years. Hundreds of warm grunterswould apply their skills in the Apalachicola national forest. They would, they were harvesting millions of worms for sport fishing and actually in the 1960s had to close the forest to the warm grunters. AB: Wow.
TK:Because they were concerned that they were going to decimate the worm population. So and watching people do it, they’re making the noise this across the top of the stick and then you see worms shooting out of the dirt. I wanted to try like run, but it looks like they’re running. I know I went and tried it this afternoon and I don’t think I banged my stick into the ground far enough and I didn’t have a big enough piece of metal cause I was running it across the top and I was making vibrations like within an inch of the stick. When you’re watching these people do it with their 10 pound weight, it’s at least a foot around that. You can see the ground jumping and does it like a file? How does it make the, it looks like the piece, it clearly can’t be flat. It has to have some sort of texture on it because it’s definitely making a percussive kind of sound and they run it like across the edge. And you’d see each person had their own special way of filing back and forth across the top. But one person’s doing it and then a woman had a coffee can and she’s walking around picking up handfuls of worms and throwing them in there. So I’m going to circle around to Vanderbilt university. They did a study on why this works. Associate Professor Ken Catania who studies moles. Yeah. He believed the vibrations are similar to the sound of a Predator, like a digging mole cause they’re through the dirt, you know? Yeah. And the worms are going to the surface to get away. So he took a small box and he filled it with dirt and earthworms and then he put a mole in there with them and the worms blew out of the dirt. All of them are like up at the surface. They were like, nope, no, thank you. And then he tried because the other theory is rain. He tried pouring water all over the top and some worms moseyed nothing like nothing like the sound of a mole or the worm grunters
AB: Oh, I feel like this dovetails nicely with what we’re going to do in the first annual Brain Junk games with bog snorkeling if we’re going to bog snorkeling and warm grunting.
TK: Yeah, and maybe some unicycling.
AB: I’m planning on flame eating.
TK: I’m not going to do flame eating. You can hop all over that. I like my eyebrows very much. We’ll see how it goes folks. So I get, I absolutely recommend that you get yourself a steak, get yourself a big chunk of metal, get out in your yard and try it. I know I’m going to try it again. If we are successful in any way, we will post a video. AB: Awesome.
AB: I bet there’s a Wiki howl.
TK: Yeah. You know it’s just you need a round, I used a square post and I really think that around post would have worked better.
AB: Like a dowel.
TK: Yes. Cause that’s kind of what they had. They had a stake. It looked like they were going to go kill vampires and then they drive it into the ground and then run this piece of metal over the top and voila!
AB:Well, when we’re not worm grunting We’re on Facebook and Instagram as brainjunkpodcast actually that’s on there all the time, whether we’re wearing grunting or not. And you can find us on Twitter as @mybrainjunk. Trace and I will catch you next time when we share more of everything you never knew you wanted to know. And I guarantee you will not be bored
TK : and you will not be without live fish bait.