Earthworms falling from the sky in Norway

Earthworms falling from the sky in Norway
In the mountains of Rundemanen it rained earthworms. The place is located barely six kilometers from Bergen.

- Yes, it's clear that I was surprised. As a biologist, I am very much out in the woods. This was no ordinary experience, says Karsten Erstad to NRK.

He estimates that there were between 10 and 20 earthworms per square meter of snow over a large area. Each of the worms were five to six centimeters long.

According to Bergens Tidende the phenomenon in the mountains outside the city of Bergen now draws international attention.

The worms have probably been brought aloft by the wind, and fallen down with the rain. Laboratory testing with wind machines shows that earthworm goes airborne if it is whirled up.

The phenomenon is not common, but it is described on some occasions, including in Sweden in 1923-24. In 1957, the magazine Allers wrote about something similar. Then it was discoveries of earthworms on a frozen lake.

- This is a phenomenon we know from literature, but it is the first time in my time as a researcher I have heard that worms have landed on snow, says senior Trond Haraldsen at Bioforsk.

He says to NRK that the worms probably have grazed on leaves that have been brought up in the air by powerful winds, then thrown off and fallen down, possibly from a great height.

- It is not so smart of them to land on snow though, as most will die. This is an important way for worms to spread. If they fall on areas with small amounts of earthworms they establish themselves there, says Haraldsen.

According to Karstein Erstad, the entire mountain area was covered by worms.

- How many earthworms did you see?

- It is impossible to say the number, but there were worms wherever I went on Rundemanen. There must have been thousands.

- Did they fall down on your head?

- No, they had fallen down before I arrived, Erstad explains to NRK.

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