Countless species of animals live in Georgia yards. However, when we think about the animals that inhabit our yards we often focus on large animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects.  However, there are far smaller creatures such as earthworms, centipedes, mites and the like, that also live out their lives just outside our door.  One of the most fascinating is an earthworm (Diplocardia longa). Like many invertebrates, it does not have an official common name; however, some simply refer it as the Hawkinsville glow worm.  However, what makes this earthworm so special is that it is one of only 37 species of luminescent earthworms known to exist worldwide.

         The reason we associate Diplocardia longa with Hawkinsville. Georgia is an American zoologist named John Penny Moore was the first to document the existence of this earthworm.  His description is based on worms first collected in Hawkinsville, Georgia in 1904.

       This is large earthworm is 11 or more inches in length and has a diameter of 0.20 inches.  The ends of its body are brown while the majority of the worm is colored salmon red.  The body is translucent which allows the animals veins to be visible.  The worm also displays a club-shaped swelling near its tail.

       What sets this earthworm apart from the vast majority of other earthworms is when the critter is disturbed a luminescent slimy substance that glows blue oozes out from its pores on the dorsal side of its body, as well as its mouth and anus.

       Biologists are unsure what role the sticky goo plays in the life of the Hawkinsville glow worm.  However, some zoologists theorize the eerie blue substance scares off potential predators such as moles.

       We know very little about the worm’s abundance, life history, and distribution. About all that is known is you have the best chance of digging one up in the sandy soils found in Georgia’s Coastal Plain.

       While I personally have never heard anyone talk about finding a Hawkinsville glow worm, I suspect that backyard gardeners throughout the region unearth it from time to time.  If you have happened across one of these odd creatures, I would love to hear about your experience.



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