Monday, October 18, 2010

The wooly bear myth explained

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. There are many wooly bear caterpillars in the United States and Canada. They can be seen anytime from May to October.

They believe 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.
One experiment showed that the color bands might tell where the caterpillar grew up. Some think that the wide black bands mean the caterpillar was living in wet conditions while the wide brown band means the caterpillar was living in dry conditions.
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.
In the late 1600s, farmers relied on weather history to predict weather. For that reason, they looked for something in nature to help them. They found the wooly bear caterpillar. Reports about the weather, along with a comparison of wooly bear stripes, made people think that the wooly bear's coat was a good signal about weather. Some people still believe the wooly bear caterpillar can be used to predict weather.
Not that wooly bear, but this one

1 comment:

  1. so what if the wooly bear is all orange, they can live for up to about 14 15 years so perhaps young ones have all orange furr and as they age they get more black or brown on either end?
    I saw what I assume was a nest of them in my garden in maine, and I left them alone as soon as I realized i had disturbed their nest.