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Wanted: Nightcrawlers Take the Bait

Does the word "worm" conjure up thoughts of summer mornings fishing, or of sidewalks crowded after rain? For some people, the word "worm" means "money". For the professional worm hunters of Ontario, Canada, earthworms are big business.

Worm hunters scour the fields of Ontario on warm, mild nights every spring, summer and fall. Armed with a lamp and a bucket, worm hunters pick up Dew worms, also called nightcrawlers, to sell to bait shops in Canada and the US. Nightcrawlers are fast and slimy, but a good hunter can get thousands of worms--worth hundreds of dollars--in a single night. Every year about 2 and a half billion Canadian earthworms end up as bait.

Why are so many earthworms crawling around Ontario? Nightcrawlers come out of their deep burrows to find food - like leaves and plant material - and drag it down the burrow for eating later. Scientists believe that Ontario has a lot of nightcrawlers because of the cool climate. However, modern pollution might be affecting the nightcrawlers of Ontario: lawn insecticides can have a devastating effect on them.

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