The mysterious worm tornado of Hoboken
The weirdness of 2020 has leaked into 2021 with the appearance of a “worm tornado” near Maxwell Park in Hoboken. Tiffanie Fisher, a Hoboken councilwoman, posted a picture of the phenomenon on Twitter asking if anyone knew what was going on. It shows a grouping of earthworms in a circular pattern, and there are a lot of them.
According to NJ.com, Fisher got the photo from a constituent who was wondering what the heck was going on. Fisher forwarded the photo to Hoboken’s Department of Environmental Services for clarification; she then posted it on Twitter where it took off.
So, what is a worm tornado? Apparently it is not a well-studied occurrence, although according to the California of Sciences, worms do engage in behavior called “herding.” Their research showed that earthworms use touch to communicate to engage in clustering behavior, which is what the Hoboken worms seem to be doing. They refer to it as being similar to a herd or a swarm. The worms use touch to influence each other’s behavior to travel in the same direction.
As reported by NJ.com, the Society of Nematologists (they study worms) gave some guidance on Twitter saying that the worms will come out of the soil when it becomes too saturated by rain for them to get the air they need; they take in air through the pores on their skin.
So, now you know; worm tornadoes are a thing and they exist in New Jersey. Keep an eye out this spring for one near you.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.