Legend of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar

I was out camping with my daughter a few weekends ago, when I came across some woolly bear caterpillars. It’s about this time each year that I see them. This year, however, they were different. I remember just last October (the 14th, in fact) I wrote a post on another blog about the Legend of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar. I transferred that post here below. Then below that, I’ll tell/show you what I found this year.

**Last year’s post**

I was out with a group of elementary-aged kids on a field trip, having lunch near a garden, when one of the kids noticed what they called a “fuzzy worm.” I told them the “fuzzy worm” was actually called a “woolly bear caterpillar.” Then one of their chaperons looked at the woolly bear and exclaimed, “It looks like we’re in for a mild winter!” I knew what she was talking about. I also knew that, like most people, she has it wrong – but it’s not her fault…

woolly bear caterpillar

Legend has it that the wider the woolly bear caterpillar’s orangey-brown middle band, the milder the impending winter. But the woolly bear’s famous prognosticating band is actually an indicator of age: the wider the band, the earlier in the season the woolly bear was hatched. And, as early hatchings indicate a warm and early spring, the woolly bear does indeed wear the weather in its wool, but it’s last season’s pattern, not the next.

woolly bear caterpillar

Isn’t it beautiful.

**End of last year’s post**

I don’t know if you remember our winter last year. If you don’t, and you live in the mid-Atlantic region, then it’s most likely because we didn’t have a winter. Now that you know about woolly bear caterpillars, can you guess what they look like right now?

If you guess all or mostly orange, then you’re right!

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Every woolly bear caterpillar I saw was completely – or mostly – orange! Most likely there wasn’t any lengthy incubation period, and they all must have hatched while it was still technically “winter.” I wonder what next year’s woolly bear caterpillars will look like…

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