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Woolly Bear Caterpillars

November 7, 2016 - Latest, Naturalist's Notes

Why did the Pyrrharctia isabella cross the road? It was going to REI to buy snowshoes! This particular woolly bear caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) was mostly black, which is a sure sign of a fierce winter. Or is it?

Most of us have heard that woolly bears can be used predict the upcoming winter. Actually, as the caterpillar grows the rusty brown band becomes smaller. So the coloration just reflects their diet and age. Woolly bears will find a good spot to hibernate as it gets colder. In the spring they will feed a bit before forming a cocoon and eventually emerging as an Isabella tiger moth.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that temperatures this winter will be above average and snowfall amounts will be normal.

What do you think?