What does the woolly worm predict for winter?
It's that time of year again when we see those little woolly worms crawling across sidewalks and through the yard. According to some people, the black and brown/orange stripes on the backs of these little critters can help predict how severe our winter will be.
First, a word on the woolly worm itself. While most call them "woolly worms" or "woolly bear", they are actually catepillars, and the journey these creatures take over the span of a few months is remarkable. The catepillars emerge from their eggs in fall, and overwinters by literally freezing solid. When warmer weather arrives in spring, the catepillars pupate and turn into moths.
On to their potential weather predicting abilities...folklore holds that the thicker the brown/orange stripe on the woolly worm, the milder our weather will be. So if you are looking for a milder than average winter, you'll want to be on the lookout for a woolly worm like the one here on the left.
However, if you find a woolly worm crawling across your path that has more black than brown you may want to go ahead and plan for a cold, snow winter!
Scientists agree that the coloration of woolly worms varies and is dependant on several factors like their larval stage, food availability, temperature, moisture, and species. While they may or may not be accurate predictors of winter weather, it's still fun to keep track of and discuss, so as you spot woolly worms in your yard this fall, be sure to let us know what you are seeing!
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