Anonymous “Worms of Cal U” Instagram account rises in popularity



Profile page of the Instagram account “wormsofcalu,” Oct. 19, 2021

Miranda Palmer, Contributor

Students at California University of Pennsylvania have been focused on catching worms, just not the kind that live in the dirt.

Over the course of three weeks, an anonymous instagram account, @wormsofcalu, has captured the attention of hundreds of students on the Cal U campus. The account takes the form of a digital scavenger hunt by posting photos of  “worms on a string” hidden in various identifiable locations on campus.

The team of two Cal U students running the account agreed to an interview over email, but requested to continue to keep their identity anonymous. The account owners said they came up with the idea after buying a pack of 100 worms for their own use and then “had a lot left over, so we decided to share the worm craze with others.”

Gillian Bowytz, a sophmore early education major, has been following the account closely and was excited to “catch” a worm this past Wednesday. Bowytz recalled, “I was on Instagram and saw them post and ran outside to get [the worm]. I was halfway there when I got the notification that they had posted a new worm.”

Instagram’s post notification feature allows individuals to be alerted when a certain account makes a new post, which several students on campus have done for @wormsofcalu. However, the feature sometimes takes a few minutes to send the notifcation, and by then, the worm has often already been found and claimed.

The account posted their first photo on Sept. 20, and has since amassed a following over 261 followers on the social media platform. “We did not expect the account to grow as quickly as it did. We expected it to grow very slowly,” said the team. They make an effort to keep their identity hidden to their followers.

“We are really only anonymous to people we aren’t close friends with. About 10-15 people know about us. Otherwise, we keep it a secret so people don’t directly ask us for worms. The run of the account is racing to find the worm.”

The account goes as far to give each faux worm a unique name written on a note included with the hidden worm. When students do find the hidden worms, the Instagram page often reposts photos submitted by the students.

Sophomore Jocelyn Crouthamel is one student among amost 50 worm owners. “I have two,” said Crouthamel, “They’re hanging on my whiteboard.” She says part of the appeal to her and other students is “just that it’s something for people to do. You get a cute, little worm out of it and it’s fun to run around campus and try to find something.”

“We have actually caught people sprinting to go get the worms we had just hidden,” said the account owners. “It’s really funny and we enjoy overhearing people talking about the worms.” Many instances have occurred where students have seen each other dashing to the same location in hopes of getting  to the worm before each other. Sophomore Cosette Bayles says she once left her work study after seeing a post and when passing her coworker simply said she would explain later and had to go.

Despite the competiveness, the worm hunting is all in good fun at the end of the day. The two owners say the have differing opinions about the best part of it. One says, “I love the fact that I have basically created a worm cult. People message us saying how much they want to find a worm.” The second half of the team says, “I think it’s great that finding a tiny worm can bring people so much happiness and I love the competitveness it brings out in people.”

After posting about 30 worms, the account posted a QR code to donate a Venmo account, captioning the post “While we love sharing worms with others, we are slowly running out of worms.” Crouthamel says it’s fair to ask their followers to donate because they are doing something for students and “we’re broke college students.”

The account has been posting several worms a day, and as long as they can get more worms, plan to continue. They say, “Making people happy has been out favorite thing to come out of the worm account.”