Grunters celebrate mysteries of earthworms

April 7, 2006 at 8:08 PM
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SOPCHOPPY, Fla., April 7 (UPI) -- Sopchoppy, a small town on Florida's Panhandle, is celebrating earthworms in its sixth annual worm-grunting festival.

Locals say their worms are superior as fishing bait. They harvest them through a backwoods craft of "grunting," rubbing a metal bar against a wood stake to produce vibrations that drive earthworms out of the ground.

The town near the Apalachicola National Forest might be the only place where people make a living harvesting wild earthworms and selling them to bait shops as far away as the Midwest.

It is believed worms respond to pounding because it makes them feel as though they are being pursued by a mole, reported the Tampa Tribune.

The famous British scientist Charles Darwin wrote his final book about earthworms in 1882, noting that worms lack a sense of hearing.

"They took not the least notice of the shrill notes from a metal whistle, which was repeatedly sounded near them," Darwin wrote, "nor did they of the deepest and loudest tones of a bassoon."

Though worms were indifferent to a piano's musical tones, they did burrow out when they felt its vibrations.

Beyond science, people from Sopchoppy say they are plain proud of worm grunting.

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