(Fwd) Gray River Worms in Missouri

Sam James sjames at mum.edu
Tue Jun 30 02:40:04 EST 1998

At 10:04 AM 6/30/98 +1100, you wrote:
>Can anybody help with this? GBR.	
>------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
>Date:          Fri, 26 Jun 1998 01:29:12 -0500
>From:          reozarks <reozarks at dialnet.net>
>Reply-to:      reozarks at dialnet.net
>Organization:  Simmons 
>To:            g.read at niwa.cri.nz
>Subject:       Gray River Worms in Missouri
>When I was a kid along Spring River in Southwest Missouri, I used to dig
>what we referred to as "gray river worms."  They were always found in mud
>banks and were easily spotted by their holes.  What endeared these worms to
>bait fishermen was their resistance to heat.  They required no
>refrigeration during an entire day of July heat.  
>Does anyone have any information on such a critter?  Can they be farmed?
>Does anyone farm them?
>Thanks in advance for any help you might give.

These are probably members of the earthworm genus Diplocardia, many species
of which can be found on river banks in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois
and regions to the south.  There is a "river worm" (D. riparia) collected
commercially in Missouri and to a limited extent in Kansas- maybe also in
Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.  It has brown anterior dorsal pigmentation,
reaches size of 15-30 cm, and lives in floodplains and the steep river bank
itself.  I have also found them in feedlots and pastures near springs and
seepages.  It is valued for its tolerance of high temperatures and
durability on the hook.  I had some survive 37-40 C daytime highs while
kept in the shade in a can filled with moist river silt.

Other large Diplocardia potentially found in the region in question are D.
fusca and D. communis.  The latter is unpigmented and so may be perceived
as gray in the event of the gut contents being dark soil.  It would be more
common in the floodplain and upland soils.

No one is farming them, as far as I know.  Bait shops in eastern Kansas and
western Missouri can be polled for the presence of river worms.

Another long shot is a gray-green worm of asian origin, commonly known as
"green worms", valued for its strong aroma, somewhat reminiscent of freshly
dug carrots but worse (catfish love it).  This is Amynthas hupeiensis, and
it reaches very high populations in moist soils of river banks and other
places.  It may out-compete D. riparia and is spread by fishermen.  Don't
help it.

~  Sam James                ~
~  Dept. of Biology         ~
~  Maharishi Univ. of Mgmt. ~
~  Fairfield, IA 52557      ~
~  sjames at mum.edu           ~
~  515-472-1146             ~
~ Systematics and Ecology   ~
~ of Earthworms             ~

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