Rare, Giant, Sweet-Smelling Earthworm Rediscovered in Idaho Prairie

Scientists in Idaho have captured a rare giant earthworm that allegedly smells like a lilly. No, really. That's what it says...

From the story on NPR:
The giant Palouse earthworm, a big white worm native to the Palouse prairie region of Idaho and Washington state, was said to be abundant in the late 19th century -- then seemed to disappear. Some people thought they never existed to begin with. But now, researchers are digging them up again...

Last month, Karl Umiker, a support scientist at the University of Idaho, was out on an unplowed fragment of prairie hunting the "big one" with a graduate student. There hadn't been a confirmed sighting of the worm since 2005, but Umiker had a new tool at his disposal. He calls it an "electroshocker." After jolting the soil a couple of times, Umiker dug around, and suddenly there it was. The worm was captured and is now sitting in a freezer at the University of Kansas, where it was positively identified. But Umiker can't say how big this prairie giant is. "The problem with earthworm stories is that they get longer and longer, and you can always stretch an earthworm," he says. That's "under the normal conditions -- without stretching it -- close to 20 centimeters." That's about 8 inches. Soil ecologist Jodi Johnson-Maynard, who heads the project, backpedals from the whole "giant" thing. "There are reportings of a meterlong earthworm, 3 feet long, but I haven't seen that," she says. "Now, possibly if one of these guys lives a long time, but I think most common might be a foot or a little bit less."

Still, it's clear these aren't your average night crawlers... "What you read in the literature is that they have a lily-like odor to them," Johnson-Maynard says. At least, that's what someone reported years ago. The worm is so rare, it's hard to separate myth from reality.

This may be a potential game-changer in the world of live bait. Who wouldn't want pre-scented and pre-colored live nightcrawlers? Being white, you could dye them any color you choose, and since they smell like flowers your wife and kids won't be as reluctant to bait their own hooks...