Rain and the Thousands of Small Worms that Follow

What are those small worms that appear in the thousands after it rains? The worms are about an inch long, they smell, and they prevent me from walking where I need to go, so I how do I get rid of them? This is, paraphrased, the question of a frustrated reader, wondering why rain causes an army of small worms to appear on her driveway after it rains.

Let’s begin with what these worms might be. As most people who have walked outside after a rainstorm know, there are often tons of worms on the sidewalk, street, and driveway. Why does this occur? Since worms are susceptible to drying out, which inhibits their ability to breath, they normally come out of ground only at night (you know, when that massive, burning-hot orb isn’t out). That’s why we call earthworms “nightcrawlers.” However, when it rains during the day, worms can come out – often for mating purposes – because the ground is wet, and hence they are not as susceptible to desiccation. They are basically seizing a rare moment for daytime sex.

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So, it’s a widely observed phenomenon that worms come out of the ground when it rains, and there is a fairly straightforward reason for this occurring. But this may not address our reader’s question because, one, she emphasized that the worms are small (often an inch long or shorter), two, she said that they smell, and three, she said that this hasn’t occurred before.

Unfortunately, without more information, it’s really difficult to be sure what sort of worm or worm-like creature this reader is dealing with. The earthworms that come out after it rains are very often larger than an inch (indeed, they can be several inches long), and in our experience, the worms generally don’t carry any particular odor (although this is possible). In fact, it often smells very good after it rains for reasons that don’t concern us presently.

Of course, other types of worms can emerge from the ground after it rains – for example, you can often find potworms in your garden or compost after it rains – but it would be slightly strange to see these worms, let alone thousands of them, exclusively on your driveway after a rain storm.

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It’s also possible that our reader is dealing with a particularly large amount of millipedes or centipedes. People have reported these creatures coming out in droves before, and they can be quite a problem, especially if they migrate into your garage or house.

Finally, it’s entirely possible that what she is seeing aren’t worms at all – this particular reader doesn’t make mention of them moving, for example – and it could be that what she is seeing is the seed or other castings from a nearby tree, which would explain the unusual observation of them having a smell.

2 Comments

  1. Robin

    I am also having this problem and would agree with “thousands”. In particular they appear all over a very large area with pavers! When the sun comes out the, too, dry up like earthworms do. They are approximately 1″ and very very thin. When they dry up they are curled, like a C.nthey come into the garage and under door jams directly in contact with water. How do I get rid of them and/or the larvae?

  2. Steve m

    I have the same question, with a little more information. There aren’t thousands of worms. Just enough to notice. They look similar to earthworms, however they tend to be 2″ to 3″ long but less than 1/16″ in diameter. I see them on our porch after a rain and the cats have brought them in on their furn. Then they come off and you find them crawling all over the house. The are red or brown, just like an earthworm. Both ends appear to be more pointed than an earthworm Are they juvenile earthworms or some other kind of worm?

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