By: Vivek J
March 17 2023
Inflorescence that falls from the trees during the spring season in China has been misrepresented as worms raining from the sky.
A video went viral in March 2023 claiming to show worms raining from the skies in Liaoning, China. The video shows some parked cars covered in small cylindrical worm-like objects. Several media outlets, including the New York Post, shared the video. Social media posts shared the video claiming the Chinese government had issued an advisory to the public to carry umbrellas while outside in the event of worms falling from the sky. However, these claims are incorrect.
We did not find any local Chinese media outlets reporting on such an incident. When examining tweets related to the video, we discovered some posts claiming that it was not raining worms, but was natural material falling from trees.
Social media users clarified that this was inflorescences from poplar trees. Inflorescence is a flower head of a plant or tree, and the one seen in the video is classified as a catkin, which resembles a worm when looked at from a distance. Such trees bearing inflorescence categorized as catkins are found in several places in China, including Liaoning. Shen Shiwei, a political commentator and journalist from Beijing, has replied to a similar video claiming to show worms raining in Beijing, shared by The Rio Times. Shiwei noted that this was fake, as he lived in Beijing and that there had been no rain for the past few days. The viral video shows that it was drizzling, and people are walking with umbrellas.
Searching Chinese social media platforms for videos of inflorescence revealed a video from April 2021, taken in Liaoning. This was not the same video, but the same type of objects were visible on cars as in the viral video. The caption of the 2021 video posted on Douyin, a Chinese social media platform, when translated to English, read, "The spikes of poplar flowers in Benxi, Liaoning covered the roof of the car. Netizens: The car was just washed for nothing!"
Additionally, the official Weibo account of the Ministry of Public Security Bureau in China shared a screenshot of the viral video, noting that people need to read more before sharing such things. They also shared another image of the tree which shed the inflorescence. Such visuals are common in places with trees of this kind, especially during the spring season. Thus, it is clear that the flowers or inflorescence falling on vehicles in China has been miscaptioned.
A video of vehicles covered in worm-like objects in Liaoning, China, is, in fact, that of inflorescence that had fallen from trees. The objects on the cars are not worms, and there were no worms raining in the area. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.