"Jim Stretcher" Larva
What is the proper name of a stream larva known locally
as "Jim Stretcher"?
My web searches to date looks like a Crane Fly Larva shown by Iowa State
html) The crane fly literature indicates 300 species, up to 4 inches
long, up to five years to develop, wet ground or mud habitat. I have
found the "Jim Stretcher" only in free flowing water: usually in a
mixture of sand and leaves, underwater inside a soft decaying log, or in a bank
of sand following high water.
I have found this larva not only in Alabama but also in North Carolina and
Florida. I suspect it develops over multi-years as it seems available
year round. It will swim like a snake, is about one inch long, and when
swimming stretches to about two inches long. Looks exactly like the
picture in the Iowa State web site. When a site is located, there are
several larva in a handful of leaves. I consider these larva to be the
worlds best fishing bait, although I seldom get out to find them
anymore. When placed on a hook just barely underneath their skin, they
will swim constantly. I have never seen this bait mentioned in the press
in more than 60 years of following the sport of fishing.
I have asked a fisherman/biologist friend about this and not had an answer.
I have never heard the name before but the description and behavior you give
sounds to me like it might be a leech. There are many species of leeches,
most of which feed on plants and do not bother humans. They are somewhat
related to worms, not insect larvae.
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Update: June 2012