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Lob Worms: the Largest common earthworms

The Lob Worm (Lumbricus terrrestris) is one of the largest
common earthworms. These are the large worms with flatish
tails. They are found on lawns and sidewalks in many parts of the
world on warm, wet evenings or early summer mornings. They
are also probably the worm that the "early bird" gets
according to the adage.

Lob Worms are also usually the worms that leave "worm casts"
in our lawns and that cause fishermen to wander around in
the dark with flashlights and pails, especially after a warm
rain. Fish love them, and so do reptiles and larger
amphibians, hedgehogs, opossums, and many other omnivorous
or carnivorous pets.

Lob Worms often dig a permanent burrow up to six or seven
feet (two meters) deep. They come up to the ground surface
in dusk or the early evening, leaving their flat tails
anchored in the burrow for a fast getaway if necessary, and
stretch the remainder of their bodies around in a circle
searching for dead or decaying plant matter and nutritious

Purchased Lob Worms will live for some time in a good sized
dark container filled with strips of damp paper and moss or
loose soil, especially if you store them in your
refrigerator or another spot that stays at forty-two to
forty-six degrees Fahrenheit (six to eight degrees Celsius).

If you want to find your own worms, you are in for a fun
challenge! Here's how we do it:

Wait for a damp evening. A misty rain is perfect. Have a
small bucket or other container clipped to your belt, (You
will need both hands for worm grabbing.), a flashlight and
wear non-slip shoes.

Find a patch of lawn with soft soil. If you don't have your
own lawn, a local football field or even a mowed roadside
may be a good harvest spot. Walk slowly and softly, watching
carefully for low movement in the grass. Earthworms can feel
the smallest vibration, and also may feel your light on
their skins, and they will pop back down into their burrows
in a flash if you startle them.

Shine the flashlight about slowly, trying to catch the worms
with just the edge of the light so as to grab them before
they realize they've been spotted. When you spot one, grab
it gently with both hands and hang on. The worm will break
in half if you grab it too firmly, and if you grab it too
loosely it will be gone into the ground, so it may take some
practice to get it just right.

If you hold onto the Lob Worm for a bit and you can feel its
hold on its burrow weakening, tug a bit harder and you
should be rewarded with a nice big worm. But if you are
getting nowhere, just let that worm go for another day and
try again, otherwise you may injure it and it may die before
you can feed it to your pet.

Another Lob Worm trapping trick is "charming." Have you seen
a robin or a sea gull pecking and stomping on a lawn? That
is what they are doing - earthworm charming. A regular,
rhythmic tapping on the ground will often bring earthworms
to the surface. Stomp gently or plant a garden fork or
pitchfork into the ground and tap the handle gently and
rhythmically and you may see worms rising up to meet you.

If the weather won't help you and the ground is dry, you
might keep a small patch of your lawn especially well
watered, or spread an old carpet piece over a sprinkling of
soil on a patch of sidewalk or patio. Keep it damp and after
a few days you may lift it to find a good worm supply.

Keep your catch in a bucket with damp newspaper or paper
towel shreds, and they will live for a few weeks. Keep two
buckets going, releasing any survivors in the first bucket
and restocking it once you begin on the second, and you will
keep your pets in worms and your yard stocked with breeders.

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