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Catching Worms: 6 Guaranteed Ways to Make Nightcrawlers Come Out of the Ground

Meagan has more then a decade of experience catching and raising worms for bait. Now she's sharing her best advice with you ...

6 Ways to Catch Tons of Worm FAST!


1. Electrocuting Worms

Apparently, worms hate being electrocuted as much as any living thing, which is why this method really does work. All you need is:

  1. A car battery
  2. Two Long metal rods
  3. Jumper cables
  4. Rubber sole boots

Pound the metal rods 2-3 feet into the ground. Attach the car battery to the jumper cables, and then the cables to the metal rods in the ground. The worms will come up to get away from the electricity underground. Once you notice a decline in worms coming to the surface move to a different area, and continue this until you have as many worms as you need.

2. Grunting for Worms

It may sound silly, but it's a serious business in some parts of the world, and there are competitions dedicated to worm grunting. While you may not be a champion, you should be able to get a few worms to pop out of the ground.

People fashion all sorts of tools for worm grunting, and everyone has their own preference. The basic idea behind grunting is to rub a flat piece of metal across the top surface of a longer piece of wood that's been hammered into the ground.

Catch tons of earthworms in the rain.

Catch tons of earthworms in the rain.

3. Make it Rain

Worms have sensors that can feel vibrations around them. They know when predators are close by, or if it's raining. Earthworms love to come out of the ground after the rain because they don't have to worry about drying out, and they can move about much easier when it's wet.

Just before dark, water your entire lawn long enough to soak the ground. Once it gets dark, you should be able to tiptoe around and catch nightcrawlers by the dozen. However, they may not come out of the ground entirely and will suck back into their holes if you don't tread lightly.

4. Soaping Worms Out of the Ground

If you have:

  1. A bucket
  2. Liquid soap
  3. Water

You have everything you need to collect tons of worms. Mix the soap and water in the bucket (make sure to use an environmentally safe soap) and pour over the lawn. Within seconds you should see worms shooting out of the ground. Repeat in different spots.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The soap will make it hard for the worms to breathe so rinse them off immediately.
  • Worms will continue to avoid this area of the lawn due to the soap residue so don't over do it.
  • You may want to test a spot on your lawn first to make sure it doesn't ruin your lawn.
Mustard can be used to make worms come out of the ground.

Mustard can be used to make worms come out of the ground.

5. Using Mustard Powder to Catch Worms

Mustard is not something most people would associate with worms, but this method really does work. The mustard-water irritates the worms and they run to the surface to escape it. You will need:

  1. A watering can
  2. Dry mustard
  3. Water
  4. Area where you think there will be worms

Mix water and the dry mustard in the watering can. Sprinkle the mixture around an area of your lawn. You should immediately begin to notice worms shooting up from the ground and running for unspoiled soil. Rinse them off before you store them to keep them healthy.

6. Catch Worms With Boards or Cardboard

This is not an ideal option for people who fancy a nice lawn since it will kill your grass, but if you have a wooded area that you don't really care about this could work for you. Lay down a bunch of boards, or cardboard, and let the worms come to you. Every couple of days go out and lift the wood; you should find quite a few worms hiding under them.

Questions & Answers

Question: What mustard to water ratio should I use to catch nightcrawlers from the ground?

Answer: Truthfully, I wish I could give you a perfect recipe but it’s more of a trial-and-error thing. I’ve tried it several times and have gotten varied results. I’ve seen it work with very little or a lot of mustard and I’ve also seen it not work at all. 

I think it’s more about where you do it, and what the worm population is in that spot. 

Worms are quite sensitive so you probably don’t need a ton to make it work, but you need enough of the mustard to effect them enough to stimulate them out of the ground. 

I’ve also found that it’s pointless to try it more than once in the same spot without giving it quite a lot of time in between. Interestingly, I have observed that the areas where I’ve tried the soap and mustard methods do not have as much natural activity at night when I go out after it rains. I don’t know if that means the worms avoid that area afterwards for a while or not, but it was an interesting observation. 

© 2018 Meagan Ireland


Meagan Ireland (author) from Maine on June 14, 2020:

Perhaps try saturating the ground a bit more? The worms are there ... it's weird none came up, but maybe you didn't use enough soapy water? I'm sorry! It can be fun watching them all shoot out of the ground.

Josh on June 10, 2020:

I use the soapy water method I've used it all over my yard in different spots and I haven't had one worm come out of the ground but yesterday when it rained we caught just tons what am I doing wrong

Meagan Ireland (author) from Maine on April 18, 2020:

Let me know which one and how it worked for you!

Kirsten on April 18, 2020:

I love this I'm gonna try one rht now

Peter on August 13, 2019:

# 6 is best

CapCarl on June 24, 2019:

Golf greens after the watering has stop.

Ken krieglmeier on May 02, 2019:

The best article im going to try it right now

Meagan Ireland (author) from Maine on April 14, 2018:

I enjoy it a lot! I've taken my kids since they were old enough to walk, and before that they sat in the stroller with a tiny pole! They love it! A fun way to spend time as a family.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 14, 2018:

An interesting article, Meagan. I never used any of those methods, but on the golf course where I used to pick we got so many nightcrawlers. Do you like to fish?