Mysterious Three-Foot Earthworm Up for Protection

Palouse earthwrom The Giant Palouse Earthworm lives in the deep soils of the Palouse region of Idaho and Washington and has been seen only a few times over the course of a century. (Photo University of Idaho and AP archives)

The Star reports:

“Fans of the giant Palouse earthworm are again seeking federal protection for the rare, sweet-smelling species that spits at predators.

Sightings of the worm have been reported only four times in 110 years, but supporters contend that it is still present in the Palouse, a region of about 2 million acres of rolling wheat fields near the Idaho-Washington border south of Spokane.

Decades of intense agriculture and urban sprawl have wiped out much of the worm’s habitat, said Steve Paulson with Friends of the Clearwater. Only about 2 percent of the Palouse prairie remains in a native state, he said. The worm can reach 3 feet long, is white and reportedly possesses a unique lily smell, said Greenwald, who is based in Portland, Ore. It is the largest and longest-lived earthworm in North America.”

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Published: July 7, 2009