plants When worms attack crops and other vegetation, they are asserting their right to be recognized as legitimate creatures of the earth.

Worms: “You, humans, have been trampling on our worm rights as citizens of the, er, soil. Now watch as we munch on your rice, corn, garlic, squash, onion, okra, broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, chicory, rutabaga, arugula, poinsettia and Christmas tree.  This is worm power, humans!”

And they always win. Right now, they have farmers in Quezon Province mourning over the death of 700 acres of corn, vegetables and other agricultural crops. In Cebu City, worms are devastating thousands of teak trees planted in more than 100 hectares in Barangay Toong. If you don’t know what a teak tree is, it’s a kind of tree planted in Barangay Toong.

No, seriously, teak is a yellowish brown timber used to make outdoor furniture, boats, houses, bridges and other items that require solid resistance to weather, and which grows in every place that has a funny-sounding name, like Bangladesh, Karnataka and Toong.  My extremely scholarly research on the subject showed that teak’s natural oils make it termite and pest resistant.

Teak’s durability, therefore, makes it an ideal tree for Toong worms to display their power over humans. I said “Toong worms” because worm experts in Cebu have yet to identify which of the 4,400 kinds of worms are attacking Toong’s teak trees.

This is the problem with worms. There are just too many kinds of them and they all insist to be called worms. Unlike humans, who successfully invented the surname, the alias, the ghost writer and the doppelganger, worms name each other according to their mission-vision on earth, their shape, their length, their width, the absence of legs, the presence of tiny legs, their favorite drink, their hairstyle, the band they listen to, etc.

I’m not kidding. Take a look at this list: angleworm, earthworm, threadworm, pinworm, hookworm, tapeworm, galleyworm, silkworm, flatworm, roundworm, annelidworm, cutworm, inchworm, measuringworm, cottonworm, wireworm, boneworm, bookworm and 4,382 worms more. At least three of these worms are names of metal bands.

Worms don’t have the concept of family (my research didn’t show papaworm), but they display overwhelming strength when they attack as a worm people united under one worm flag.  Take armyworm, for example.

Armyworms have been identified as the culprit in the Quezon Province corn attack. Armyworms got their name from an eating habit they acquire from 85 million years of waging war with leaves. Armyworms devour everything in an area and once the food supply is exhausted, the entire ‘army’ moves to the next available food source, burping as they chant: “Tree … Tree … Tree … Tree Time / Tree … Tree … Tree … Tree Time / Tree … Tree … Tree … Tree Time / Tree … Tree … Tree Time Warriors!”

Which is quite unfair to the Army, actually. The Navy, the Marines, the Police, the Barangay Tanods, especially the Barangay Tanods, share the same eating habit too. Why pick on the Army?

Whatever, let’s not allow “tanodworms” to distract us from the more urgent task at hand: coming up with an effective counter-attack against this wiggly battalion. Insecticides, pesticides and wormicides seemed to have failed. Why don’t we try arming the plants themselves? In this case, we have a lot to learn from Plants vs. Wormbies.

Plants vs. Wormbies is a tower defense video game that involves a homeowner using many varieties of plants to repel an army of wormbies. The homeowner, along with a neighbor called Crazy Dave, must defend… Hey! What’s this worm right here that’s eating up my column space before I can write something useful?? HEEELP!

SUN.STAR CEBU. AUG. 3, 2010