How do you charm a worm?

Well, the obvious way to charm a worm is to tell it that it looks a little like Ryan Gosling, but you have to get it out of the ground first. And worm charming is a way to do just that.

Many people have seen birds tapping on the ground to sound out worms. And people have, over the years, attempted to imitate the feat. Worm charmers can be professionals, gathering bait for fishing stores, or just amateurs, charming the worms for the sheer hell of it.

People once believed that the birds made the worms believe that it was raining, forcing them to surface to keep from drowning, but recently researchers say it's more likely that tapping sounds like a mole digging through the ground. The worms surface to get clear of their predator.

Sadly, worm charming is no easy task. It is usually equal parts science, art, and self-delusion. Some people tap on the ground. Others place a stick against the ground and spin it in their hands as if they were making a fire. People tap on the ground with balls, or turn stereo speakers into the ground and play bass notes. People pound on the ground with paddles or stick pitchforks in it and rock them back and forward. Anything that vibrates the ground will (theoretically) do.

There are worm-charming competitions in England, America, and Australia, every year. Contestants generally get a square 3 x 3 yard plot, and half an hour. Water is forbidden. Although most people are just trying random techniques, some people clearly have a system that works. The record number of worms charmed by a single person is 511 worms in just half an hour.

Image: S Shepherd

[ Via Oh My News]