40th Ask Josh – Worms

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Sometimes i wonder where do worms go in the winter time, if they stay underground do they freeze? Its kinda like the flys go away too, then suddenly come back , but where do they go? it could not have been south for the winter like birds, I just don’t know.

Confused Biologist

lol- please keep this confidential, and i am not really a biologist, but thats off the record.


Dear CB,

According to Martin Holmstrup and J. Overgaard, there are earthworms that live in subarctic and cold temperate areas who have learned to deal with freezing underground temperatures. It turns out that the air temperature is often worse than underground anyway.  
“Most lumbricid earthworms can survive temperatures down to the melting point of their body fluids but only few species are freeze tolerant.” [Cryobiology, vol. 55, issue 1 (Aug 2007): 80-86]

I never would have guessed it, but some earthworms can actually tolerate the formation of ice inside of their little wormy selves.  Holmstrup and Overgaard go on to say that, “freeze tolerance may be a more common phenomenon in earthworms than previously thought.” [Ibid.]  

Of course, not all earthworms are like that.  As the article said, only a few species are freeze tolerant.  So in the next few exhibits, I would like to not only to tell you, but show you where the worms go in the winter. 

Exhibit A – Earthworm Jim – According to Wikipedia, he became the first video game to receive a 100% review in GamesMaster magazine.

Exhibit B – Earthworm from James and the Giant Peach. The truth is, the Earthworm wasn’t that great, really.  Of all the arthropods on the peach, he was the only one to not be featured on the movie poster.  He even came in behind the silkworm who doesn’t even do anything for the entire movie.

It is kind of a disappointment to not be featured on the cover.  But let’s be honest, earthworms just don’t sell.

Exhibit C – Oh wait, I guess earthworms do sell.  They just don’t sell movie tickets.  The purpose for this exhibit is threefold. To wit,
1. Some worms have thrived in greenhouses where they are cultivated and harvested for bait.
2. Some are made into proverbs like, “don’t open that can of worms.”
3. Others are made into social laments, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.”

Exhibit D – Some are still eating Ben Franklin. He wrote his own mock epitaph:

The Body of B. Franklin

Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be whlly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author.

His real epitaph looks like this.  There may be no worms on the surface, but I imagine that, deep down, they’re there–staying warm. 
Exhibit E – Some go back in time to be a part of Martin Luther’s Diet.

Exhibit F – Other Hollywood worms moved away from being extras and actually came out as the villains.  Like in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.

Exhibit G – Some worms are sold as pets.  They live in little habitats called Worm Farms, you know, like Ant Farms.  The store that specializes in selling worm farms is none other than Harry Dunn and Lloyd Christmas franchise, “I Got Worms.”
Exhibit H – Some worms become Magic: The Gathering cards where they (ironically) are among the most powerful creatures a Mage can summon.  As you may well know, Wurms have high power and toughness.  They do require that you use a lot of mana, and some require that you sacrifice your enchantments.  And enchantments don’t come cheap these days.  But that’s the fee that Wurms charge.  After all, they did come all the way from being an internally frozen ground dweller, to bait, to proverb, to video game subject, to movie extra, to movie villain, to movie star, to history legends.  Don’t you think they deserve a little mana?
craw_wurm.jpgelder_land_wurm_med.jpgbattering_wurm_gpt.jpgEndless Wurm.jpg
  1. josh, if we had a hero– just one– like the greeks had achilles, the trojans had hector, and the romans had aeneas, what would she be like?

  2. Oh dear. You hit another level with this blog. Untouched ground now ravaged by the better idiot

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