Ice Worm

Ice worms are cold-loving creatures that live inside glaciers. If it is cold enough outside they will crawl out of their holes in order to bask in the frigidity. As they bask they make a chirping sound that is loud enough to keep awake anyone trying to sleep nearby.

Ice worms were first described in 1898 by E.J. "Stroller" White, a journalist for the Klondike Nugget in Dawson (located in the Yukon). Thanks to his account of them, ice worms became a local attraction in Dawson. Residents went on expeditions to find them, carefully listening for their characteristic chirping, and bartenders in town began serving a drink called 'Ice Worm Cocktails.' These were prepared by pulling a long skinny worm out of a piece of ice and dropping it into a customer's drink. Some skeptics suggested that the bartenders were actually pulling pieces of spaghetti out of blocks of ice, and in a few cases this allegation may have been correct since many bartenders were known to pass off fake ice worms on ignorant out-of-towners who didn't know what the real thing looked like.

The ice worms described by "Stroller" White are a whimsical cousin of ice-living worm species, such as Mesenchytraeus solifugus, studied by mainstream scientists. The kind of ice worms studied by scientists, besides having a firmer footing in reality, are not known to chirp.

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I just read about the alaskan Ice Worms and I'm surprised that the Poet Robert Service was not mentioned since he wrote "the ballad of the ice worm cocktail" I always thought that he had invented it. Maybe he did!
Posted by Doug allen  on  Wed Nov 24, 2004  at  01:12 PM
Dawson is not in Alaska! It's in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Dawson was the center of the original Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s (the town is near the junction of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers). The Gold Rush eventually moved on to such places as Juneau, Fairbanks, Nome, and other spots in Alaska and Canada which briefly boomed and, in most cases, soon busted.

There are several known organisms that live on glaciers and even some (most of them unicellular) that have been observed growing on permafrost. Permafrost refers to soil that never thaws-- so it's not only perpetually deep-frozen, but deep underground as well. My sister-in-law works for a department of the University of Alaska that, among many other projects, operates a permafrost laboratory-- work there consists mainly of going down in a frozen hole and watching the ice crystals. ...And you thought YOUR job was a drag ...
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Thu Dec 30, 2004  at  05:40 PM
The Klondike ice worm woke me up

A Klondike ice worm
chirping through a blizzard
great they woke me up
Posted by J  on  Thu Oct 05, 2006  at  01:27 PM
missed out a word in my haiku. Should have read

A Klondike Ice-worm
He's chirping through a blizzard
Gert, he woke me up.
Posted by J  on  Sat Oct 07, 2006  at  12:30 PM