There aren’t too many creatures that give people the willies more than worms do. Charles Darwin called these organisms the “ploughs of the earth,” and at any given time there are up to over a million earthworms in a single acre of land. These slimy, wriggling staples of fishermen everywhere inspire revulsion and loathing to many, and although they are crucial to our ecology, they have mostly remained hated and underappreciated.
The image that many have of worms is of a small creature, maybe as long as one’s finger or hand, and for some this is quite big enough. Yet can you imagine a worm as long as your arm? How about one as long as your leg? Even longer still? That’s a mighty big fishhook.
In Japan, the longest known species of worm is known as the Seibold earthworm (Pheretima sieboldi), which reaches typical lengths of around 25 ~ 28 cm (9.8 ~ 11 inches), although specimens of around 40cm (about 16 inches) long or over have also reportedly been found on occasion. Some areas in Nara prefecture, as well as the southern Ryukyu islands have reliably documented worms from 40 to 50 cm (16 ~ 19.6 inches) long. These are big worms to be sure, but are there even more massive worms lurking in the earth in Japan? There have long been tales of enormous earthworms surfacing from time to time in various areas of Japan. One of the hotspots for such accounts is Hyogo prefecture, on Honshu Island, which has many historical accounts of worms in excess of 1.5 meters (5 feet) long.