Like most young teenagers, I needed extra money during summer, so I picked night crawlers. A man paid us a quarter cent per worm and sold them to fishing stores.
We tied tin cans to our belts and covered flashlight lenses with red tissue paper to search neighbourhood lawns for the beasts. We often worked in teams, pointing our flashlights at the blue grass. We worked like a posse searching for aliens or a miniature Sasquatch.
Although night crawlers have no eyes or ears you must be brave to pick them. They can be a foot long and very strong. A step vibration can send them down their burrows with slurping sounds. Bright light can also panic them. Some of us picked 500 worms per night. When we crawled on hands and knees, I wondered whether we were the reason for their name.
We found copulating worms held together by genital chaetae: gonopores-to-clitella, glistening with sperm on the grass. Sometimes we picked both of them at a time. Hurrah! Hurrah!
You had to be quick and hold them firmly between your thumb and forefinger, near the burrow, where they kept their flat tails anchored. Then you pulled slowly and evenly so as not to break them. They have strong bristles on their tail to zip down the burrow if your fingers slip.
I developed much respect for robins on those nights. I also learned that there are more, than just birds-and-bees, in my life.