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Can Woolly Bear Caterpillars Predict Winter Severity?

Posted on Oct 7, 2014

Have you ever heard the myth that woolly bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella) can predict the severity of the winter season? According to folklore, the longer the black extends down the body segments, the colder or snowier the winter will be in the locality the caterpillar is found. On the other hand, the longer the brown extends in the middle of the body, the milder the winter will be. This individual in particular seems to be indicating a severe winter, as the black coloration extends quite far down the body from each end. Although this may not be the prediction you were hoping for, there’s no need to worry, as woolly bear caterpillars are no better at predicting the upcoming winter as we are. The proportion of their brown and black coloration is actually based on how long they have been feeding, how old they are and what species they are. So the next time you see a woolly bear caterpillar with only a small section of brown, do not be alarmed as this simply indicates a good feeding year.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar