Worm Charmers; March 2010; Scientific American Magazine; by Kenneth Catania; 4 Page(s)
If you happen to be hiking in the right part of Florida at dawn, you might catch the sound of a predator hidden in the vegetation. Surely an alligator must be the source of these calls, you say to yourself. But the sound does not come from an alligator, or a mother bear, or some newly introduced predator from the Amazon. It comes from a human predator—a “worm grunter.”
Worm grunters have mastered the art of charming worms out of their burrows so they can be collected and sold as bait. First, the hunters pound a stob, or wooden stake, into the soil, and then they rub the stake with a flat piece of metal called a rooping iron. The vibrations resonate through the ground. In response, hundreds of large earthworms emerge, some as far as 12 meters from the baiter.