Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (269 KB)

Title:  Grunting for worms: reactions of Diplocardia to seismic vibrations

Author: Callaham, M.A. Jr.;

Date: 2009

Source: Biology Letters 5:16-19. (updated citation)

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Harvesting earthworms by a practice called 'worm grunting' is a widespread and profitable business in the southeastern USA. Although a variety of techniques are used, most involve rhythmically scraping a wooden stake driven into the ground, with a fiat metal object. A common assumption is that vibrations cause the worms to surface, but this phenomenon has not been studied experimentally. We demonstrate that Diplocardia earthworms emerge from the soil within minutes following the onset of grunting. Broadband low frequency (below 500 Hz) pulsed vibrations were present in the soil throughout the area where worms were harvested, and the number of worms emerging decreased as the seismic signal decayed over distance. The findings are discussed in relation to two hypotheses: that worms are escaping vibrations caused by digging foragers and that Worms are surfacing in response to vibrations caused by falling rain.

Keywords: earthworm, vibration, escape, rain, moles

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Mitra, O., Callaham, M.A., Jr., Smith, M.L., Yack, J.E. 2008. Grunting for worms: reactions of Diplocardia to seismic vibrations. Biology Letters 5:16-19. (updated citation)


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.