It’s enough to turn anyone’s stomach.
A video circulating on social media shows vehicles in a downtown setting literally covered with what appears to be thousands of squirmy worms.
“Worms rained down on people and vehicles in Beijing, the capital of China,” said one social media user, announcing Armageddon. “After the astonishing incident, authorities warned citizens to use umbrellas when they leave the house …”
The post caused some alarm for a few Twitter users.
“End times loading …” read one comment.
“Take out lunch ?” another posted.
But a closer look at the video, as well as comments below the post, tell a different story.
“First, this is Liaoning, not Beijing,” wrote one commenter. “Second, it’s fallen poplar flowers, not worms. Did you see them move? No. 1 in rumor mongering.”
“Not worms. Tree poop,” wrote another.
“This is why people are stupid,” adds another commenter.
Worms rained down on people and vehicles in Beijing, the capital of China. After the astonishing incident, authorities warned citizens to use umbrellas when they leave the house… pic.twitter.com/0Z68fYSTVZ— Tansu YEĞEN (@TansuYegen) March 12, 2023
Cowboy State Daily Meteorologist Don Day was quick to see the flaws in the original post.
“I’m highly skeptical,” Day said. “If you notice how wide and long they are, it doesn’t make sense from the standpoint of worms.”
Day explained that for worms to fall from the sky, a number of atmospheric conditions would need to be in play.
“If you’re gonna get worms into the air and have them rain, you’re going to have to have some type of major cataclysm that’s going to pull up soil and expel worms into the air,” he said.
In this case, Day confirmed that the “worms” are most likely poplar seed pods, which when wet can look like worms from a distance.
“We’ve got some poplar trees here in Cheyenne, and that’s exactly what their pods look like,” he said.
Although this particular video was debunked as fake news, Day said there have been documented instances around the world of strange phenomena like raining worms.
“There have been instances – that are proven – of fish and frogs and salamanders coming down, usually due to a tornado or a waterspout picking up things,” he said. “But the worm is a real stretch.”
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Day said that in the right conditions, coastal storms can sometimes cause foreign objects to fall from the sky, and it’s more common than one might think.
“Especially in parts of the world where you have a lot of summer thunderstorms, you can get these waterspouts forming off the coast that might never get to the land, but they’re strong enough to pull the water up, and anything that is near the surface could be entrained into that waterspout,” he said. “And then, basically, what goes up must come down, and gravity takes over and they end up falling down later.”
However, that type of atmospheric disruption doesn’t happen often in Wyoming, Day said.
“You’re really only going to get that in a tornado waterspout environment,” he said. “Or maybe a really strong thunderstorm updraft.”
Opening A Can of Worms
Real or hoax, the video captured the attention of Twitter users from around the world, and while some comments were alarmist, others were certainly chuckle-promoting.
• “Scientists determined that the phenomenon is due to the extinction of the Early Bird.”
• “Time to go fishing ;o)”
• “I guess someone opened a can …”
• “Food directly delivered.”