Friday, October 10, 2014

Wooly Bear Caterpillar


            The wooly bear caterpillar, which turns into the tiger moth, Isia Isabella, is the source of a common superstition. Some people believe that the coat of a wooly bear caterpillar can be used to predict how bad the coming winter will be.

 


            The Wooly Bears can be seen anytime from May to October, but are more visible to us from now to October crossing the road. It’s during this road crossing that I know summer is done and fall is upon us.

            Legend would have it that the Wooly Bear gives us a glimpse into the kind of winter we’re going to have. It is said that if a wooly bear caterpillar's brown stripe is thick, the winter weather will be mild and if the brown stripes are narrow, the winter will be severe. Whether this is true or not would be hard to say being that no two Wooly Bear’s seem to be alike in their width of markings. So I imagine that if an outspoken farmer just happened to see a narrow banded Bear at the start of bad winters, and a fat banded Wooly during the beginning of mild winters; I’m sure he was able to convince his fellow farmers of his discovery.

            What might be more truthful would be that the color bands might be telling us where the caterpillar grew up. Some think that the wide black bands mean the caterpillar was living in wet conditions (which are typically low areas and therefore can be colder), while the wide brown band means the caterpillar was living in dry conditions (which are typically higher ground and more likely to be warmer..
            The coloration may also show how near being an adult the caterpillar is. At full growth, fall weather signals the wooly caterpillar to seek shelter, as ladybugs do, so they are out and about more.
            All I know is that if I see a Wooly Bear walking across the road I’m sad, for summer is done.

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