Woolly Bear Caterpillar, The Original Winter Weather Predictor
The Woolly Bear Caterpillar, also know as a Woolly Worm across the South, and among country folks, is the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth (pictured below). During the fall season they search for overwintering habitats in the usual places, trees, logs, etc. In the Spring, they form gauzy cocoons and spin themselves into Isabella Tiger Moths. These fuzzy little guys were no doubt inching their way toward a safe winter haven when we found them.
Do Woolly Bears/ Woolly Worms Predict The Weather?
The jury is still out. In the late 1940's-1950's a scientist named Dr. C.H. Curran (curator of the insects at the American Museum of Natural History) took samples of Woolly Bear Caterpillars and attempted to find a correlation between the length and severity of winter weather and the length of the brownish orange band in the center of the Wooly Bear. In the end, the sample size was very small and the number of seasons not sufficient (by scientific standards) to support a conclusion regarding any correlation between the caterpillar and winter weather. Nonetheless, a small data sample doesn't mean the folklore is not true.
All science aside, most country folks will tell you what kind of winter weather is coming based on the segments or bands of the Woolly Worm. My husband, who is undoubtedly from the country, will tell you that the size of the black ends of the Woolly Worm foretells how winter will come and go. Based on these two guys, he felt like the winter would start rough, end rough, and be mild in the middle. By the Curran school of thought, judging by the size of the brown band, this winter will be moderate. Both black bands are relatively equal on these two little guys, and the middle segment looks like it takes up a little more than 1/3 of it's body. Whatever the true case may be, folklore is fun and it presents a great learning opportunity for our daughter, Willow. Fostering a deep connection with nature is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids. Do you have any Woolly Worm/ Woolly Bear experiences? Did they accurately predict the winter? Let us know in the comments below.
UPDATE: January 11, 2017. Oh. Mah. Gah. The Woolly Worms were right. Winter came right in here and froze us to pieces. The few days have been at times in the single digits with one snowstorm down for the books. Im waiting for that mild middle section to roll in...
Hi! I'm Amy. I am a former commercial photographer who has lived all over the world and finally landed in my happy place - Historic Boscobel Farm. I love living beautifully in the country, and sharing my favorite things. Follow me on Instagram or sign up for my newsletter to keep updated.