Saturday, November 25, 2017

Not a Woolly Bear

I found this caterpillar hiding under a pile of leaves and got all excited about what an all-black woolly bear meant for the severity of winter.
I checked The Old Farmer's Almanac, but they just told me that the more black there is, the more severe winter will be. That doesn't bode well.

My next source, the National Weather Service, went into a lot of detail about whether the head or tail is dark predicting the severity of the beginning and end of winter, and if the caterpillars are traveling north (mild winter) or south (cold winter). This was more complicated than
I really wanted, but it did lead me to my third source.

I learned that this isn't an all-black woolly bear at all, but rather a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. It has distinctive red bands between segments, but apparently no weather prediction abilities.

I haven't found any real woolly bears around here, but the "Winning Worm" (the overall winner of the 1,000 entrants in woolly worm races) at the Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival seems to predict that it will be a fairly average winter. Nothing says excitement like woolly bear races!


  1. What a cool find in the leaves!!! I've never found the Woolly Bear to be very accurate in its predicting-ability -- but then, I didn't know about the travel direction thing at all. So I guess it's possible that they were right all along and I just had no idea. Whatever the case, I haven't seen any Woolly Bears at all around here yet this year. (Maybe they're as confused as everything else. . .)

  2. I thought that was the most flamboyant woolly bean caterpillar I had ever seen! Nature continues to delight if we take notice, yeah? I, too, have never found woolly bears to be predictive of the weather, but I haven't seen any this year. My most recent find was a caterpillar that looks like a dead leaf. I suppose I had seen them before, but not known they were caterpillars. I was fascinated when I noticed the legs!

    1. I usually see loads of woolly bears in the fall, but none this year, even though I've been actively looking. That is so cool that you saw the dead leaf caterpillar in real life! Justin used to pore over insect books when he was younger and both of us were fascinated by the photos of the dead leaf caterpillars and how much they really looked like dead leaves!

  3. I was going to tell you about the festival! We would stay in Banner Elk while visiting Dan in Boone. It was a BIG DEAL!
    We've had a lot of caterpillars this year but they weren't wooly...only time will tell!

  4. We have seen Woolly Bear Caterpillars with varying amounts of black...but that Leopard Moth Caterpillar is beautiful!

  5. I was curious of the woolly bears ability to predict and glad you went on your search to share its knowledge. By looking out my window I can tell it is going to be a dry winter. To my knowledge, we have no woolly bears, but since it's too warm for the resorts to make snow, I can surmise on my own. Sadly.

  6. I think this post wins the prize for noticing ... and researching! I for one am hoping for a goldilocks winter (not too hot and not too cold ;-)

  7. I usually see one woolly bear caterpillar each fall but I haven't yet this year. Great job researching!

  8. That's a very interesting caterpillar, but an even more interesting moth!! So beautiful! Have you ever seen one in person?

  9. Fascinating. Haven't seen any caterpillars...t'will be interesting to see how the winter turns out!


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment! :-)