Scientists have returned from Peshastin, Wash., near Leavenworth, with what they believe may be two juvenile giant Palouse earthworms. Soil scientist Jodi Johnson-Maynard and another researcher from the University of Idaho found the specimens last week after following up on the possibility that the elusive worm species lives in the area.
The search for the great white Palouse giant — a rare Northwest native earthworm that reportedly can grow up to three feet in length and has other peculiar characteristics (they are lilly-scented and hiss when provoked) — has been intense over the years, but seldom rewarded. Most of the few worms found have been damaged or dead. They are thought to be possibly endangered, but so little is known about them, even that is not certain. These two are only two inches long.
This find follows a discovery in the Leavenworth area by a local property owner last fall. While most associated with the Palouse region of southeast Washington and neighboring Idaho, the worms, if confirmed, would provide evidence that the species' range extends to the far west of the Columbia Basin. The unearthed worms will be DNA tested to confirm whether or not they are in fact great whites. The Wentatchee World has details.