How To Catch Worms: Easy Methods - Uncle Jim's Worm Farm

How To Catch Worms: 4 Easy Methods

Night Crawlers, Red Worms, Worm Kits

Detail of a fisherman holding a worm

Fishermen always need good old worms for their freshwater fish ventures. However, catching them can get tricky unless you know the exact methods of how to catch worms. Fortunately, there are several ways to catch these tiny animals, and none of them are difficult with the right tools and a bit of patience.

While worms are very popular amongst fishermen, they can be used for many other purposes, such as feeding birds or making vermicompost – a rich, eco-friendly soil amendment. Regardless of why you might need to gather worms, here are 4 simple ways to do that!

What Species of Worms to Look For?

Before you start to dig, you need to know what species of worms to look for. While there are different kinds of nightcrawler worms, these two types of worms can be used for a variety of purposes, like fishing and vermicomposting:

The European Nightcrawler Worm

These worms grow to around 6″ in length, can be blue or purple mixed with pink and grey colors with stripes, and their tails can be cream or pale yellow. The European nightcrawler worms are an excellent fishing choice as they wiggle for a long time underwater on the hook.

If you’re wondering where to find worms, look around in your garden or lawn, as these night crawlers commonly live there, especially in colder climates. You can also catch them in forests among dead plants or manure.

Although European nightcrawlers live up to 6.5 feet deep underground, you won’t have a hard time catching them with the right tools and tactics.

Red Wiggler Worms

This species of worms are smaller than its blue counterparts and best suited for vermicomposting. Also known as manure worms, this species often live in manure. If this is off-putting, look for them in decaying garden-grown fruit.

Red wigglers usually live close to the soil’s surface in gardens and lawns, so you probably won’t have a challenging time catching them.

When Is the Best Time to Look for Worms?

While you can find worms all year round, the best time to look for them is during the transitional seasons (spring and fall), as the weather is most favorable. This is also the time you should consider prepping your worm bin. When the soil gets too hot, cold, and dry, worms tend to bury themselves deep underground.

Note that worms are nocturnal animals, meaning they prefer to hide underground during the daytime. That’s why you will want to look for them at night. Also, they are more active when things get dark, as that’s when they go looking for food.

But how to catch worms at night? Worm hunting seems complicated, as you might find one or two by digging around, but you can dig up your entire yard without preparation. You will need a flashlight and a few tools and techniques that can increase your worm-hunting success at night.

Preparation Is Half the Work

Backyard worm catching can be a fun activity with a friend and can be done with the most basic supplies. On the other hand, worm grunting is a strategic and specialized skill requiring knowledge of specific techniques and tools.

Preparation is a half-one battle when trying to lure in and catch a batch of worms. Not only do you need to have the right equipment, including a good quality fishing rod and bait, but you also need to know where to find the worms and how to attract them. The best time to go worm hunting is after a rainstorm when the worms come to the surface. It’s important to handle the worms gently and keep them cool and moist until you’re ready to use them as bait.

Have a Container Ready for Storage

Unless you intend to use the worms immediately after catching them, you will want to make sure you’re ready for your worm hunt by preparing a bin with holes in the lid where you will add around 2″ of soil. Once you make your worm bin or buy it online, you’ll have a safe place to put them once you catch them and carry them home. 

What’s more, different strategies will work depending on the factors like time (urgency), place, and the conditions you have to catch worms. For the folk that already know where to find worms, here are four easy methods of catching them. 

#1 Catch Worms Using Cardboard Boxes

A rookie worm-getter might think that digging around at night might not be an effective strategy, and they are completely right. So, how to get worms out of the ground without getting too wet and muddy?

Provided that you have nutrient-rich soil behind your home, you will have a plethora of backyard worms.

One of the easiest ways to gather worms is by leaving a wet piece of flattened cardboard in your garden or lawn overnight. Worms are attracted to wet cardboard so that they will crawl up to the surface in no time. Once you remove the cardboard, you’ll have countless worms to place into your worm bin.

#2 Use the Rain to Catch Your Worms

Earthworms need moisture to survive and move more freely above the ground when it’s wet and dark. So, look for your worms during or after rain in the dark using a flashlight.

If you have a hard time locating them, try using a shovel to dig into the ground and break the wet soil with your hands to find them. You can also look for them in the early morning when sprinklers wet the soil.

Coax the Worms Out With Water

Alternatively, you can mimic the moisture and rain factors on your own! Soak your garden or lawn with water and look for your worms once it gets dark. Just remember to tread softly, as they may go back into the ground if they feel threatened.

#3 Good Old Worm Digging

Worms live in black, moist, nutrient-rich soil, but how to get worms from it? It takes patience and practice. Prepare:

  • a container,
  • shovel,
  • and sawdust or something similar to catch them by hand. 

Start by choosing a spot (preferably near a water source, food scraps, or under a rock) and carefully set your equipment around you. Take a shovel into the soil and push it down with the help of your foot as far as possible. Then, lift it using leverage and search for your worms inside the hole. Note that you may have to dig a few times before they appear.

Don’t forget to look under rocks, bricks, wood, and other objects you might find on the ground, as that’s where worms often reside. However, you should be careful when doing this as you may encounter dangerous animals beneath, including snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Once you locate your worms, it’s time to collect them! And the best way to do that is by picking them with your fingers by their end, which is typically lighter in color than the rest of the worm. Once you catch several worms, you will want to dip your fingers into sawdust to dry them and enhance your next grip.

Worms Are a Part of the Ecosystem

Note that you shouldn’t remove too many worms from one place as this can negatively affect that environment.

Place your worms into their bin and store them in the fridge. Just pay attention not to freeze them accidentally.

#4 Lure Worms Using a Pitchfork

You can also use a pitchfork to lure worms above the ground. Also known as a worm grunting stick, this traditional method involves sticking the pitchfork into the ground and then rubbing it with a piece of metal or wood.

The vibrations that are created mimic the sound of a mole, which causes the worms to surface. It’s a popular method among fishermen and gardeners alike, and it’s been used for centuries. However, it’s important to note that this method may not be sustainable as it can disrupt the natural ecosystem.

Things to Avoid when Catching Worms

Don’t use soapy water to gather worms from your garden or lawn because it can cause damage to the soil and plants. Also, you will want to bypass electrocuting the worms because the shock can harm their nervous system, promoting their death.

If you need worms for fishing, you need to make sure they still wiggle once you throw them into the water, so take proper care of them.

How to Store Your Worms?

All you need to store the little wigglers is a small styrofoam cooler, some dirt, bedding, and organic food waste. Some people occasionally sprinkle a little cornmeal to keep the worms healthy and happy. However, for long-term worm storage, we suggest building a dedicated worm farm.

Hopefully, you discovered several ways to catch your worms the next time you need them after closing hours or when you’re feeling too lazy to get in the car and drive several miles to the nearest worm dealer!

There is always an easy way out for those looking to avoid getting dirty in the garden. If you want to skip the digging, we can ship nightcrawlers to you in no time.


20 thoughts on “How To Catch Worms: 4 Easy Methods

  1. Most range in size from the head of a pin to a small pea. They are the same coloir as your skin and have growths that look like threads sticking out of
    them. Using liquid nitrogen, they will freeze the warts until it
    either drops off or they are able to cut it off.

  2. Though harmless, they are one off the most
    irksome and disgusting pests out there. Roaches like to eat wood and will often live under wet piles of mulch, soo cleaning them up is a good preventative.
    First Steps to Roach Control – The absolute first thging most people
    will tell you is to lay out some stticky traps, they are just
    like the ones you find for mice.

    1. Look under big flat rocks and try hunting at night or after a medium to heavy rainstorm.
      The saying is true, the early bird catches the worm. Try just at sunrise and look under rocks or debris. They will be pretty fast, so try to have one hand gloved for moving things and another bare to gently snatch them up.

  3. I have been told (old wive’s tale ?) that nitecrawlers picked up on blacktop/asphalt will die, they pick up oil from those surfaces, true or false?

  4. I live here in Florida where it’s almost all sand do you have to have dirt or will worms get in the sand how can I create bed for worms with gray sand

  5. They cannot survive without organic material. Use decaying leaves or multch or shredded newspaper. FLORIDA HAS MORE THAT SAND. YOU CAN BUY SOME COCONUT coir which makes a good moist bedding. Sand compacts too much and is abrasive. No earthworm will be happy in sand. You need EARTH.

  6. True. They all die sometime. But crawling across asphalt when wet doesn’t kill. It the tar isn’t cured and the surface is hot, they can die

  7. They cannot survive without organic material. Use decaying leaves or mulch or shredded newspaper. FLORIDA HAS MORE THAN SAND. YOU CAN BUY SOME COCONUT coir which makes a good moist bedding. Sand compacts too much and is abrasive. No earthworm will be happy in sand. You need EARTH.

  8. I live in Kenya but its true that worms does well in wet area and my suprise is that can they be kept in a container?

    1. I grow worms in a store tote that I drilled holes in, just keep it shaded so it doesn’t get hot and make sure to mist water when it needs it to stay damp.

  9. Mulch pile, or under a pile of wet leaves is always a good spot to look. Bring something to put them in. Take a little of the soil or mulch and put it in the can , add your worms. And yes, you can dig for the big earth worms as well.

  10. Mow your lawn in afternoon then wet down with hose at dark they will be all over your yard walk softly & don’t point flashlight directly at them! Sneaky like

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