FAMILIES can become citizen scientists using the “surreal” art of worm charming to help the Soil Association create a UK-wide worm map and celebrate this vital but declining species.

All in time for The Falmouth Worm Charming Championship taking place Sunday, May 19.

Running across the country in May, the Soil Association Worm Hunt comes with a free guide to inspire people to dance on the soil, soak the earth with water or use the power of vibrations to attract the worms to the surface.

The findings will be used to create a worm map of the UK, showing where the healthiest and most biodiverse soils are, as an abundance of worms is an indicator of healthy soil.

Worms can help soil by repairing damage, producing a sticky mucus that binds it together. This helps water drain and prevents flooding, and soils with plenty of earthworms are up to 90 per cent more effective at soaking up water.

But a recent study found that earthworm populations have declined by a third over the past 25 years – so the push to restore their numbers starts here.

Soil Association head of worms Alex Burton said: “From Falmouth to Falkirk, we’re excited to celebrate worms and learn more about their work from the ground up.”

Searching for worms can take as little as half an hour, and only requires a small area of land – so hunts can take place in gardens, farms or local parks.

To support the study, Soil Association have partnered with the Falmouth Worm Charming Championships. Taking place during the Worm Hunt month, they help people of all ages connect with these celebrated creatures.

With prizes awarded for the most worms charmed and the most creative charming methods, the team has built a place to respectfully engage with the world under our feet, and will be collecting data for the worm map.

The Worm Hunt takes place throughout May. Download the Worm Hunt Guide, share photos of your search on social media using #WormHunt, and tag @soilassociation so we can admire your discoveries.