An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Woolly Bears

Legend has it that the more black at either end of a woolly bear, the harder the winter that lies ahead.  Truth be known, the woolly bear caterpillar (larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth) molts its skin up to six times, and each time a brown section is added; thus, the longer the summer, the greater the ratio of brown to black on a woolly bear.   A mostly-brown caterpillar is more an indication of an early spring or late fall, rather than a forecast of the coming winter’s severity!

3 responses

  1. ht

    A lagging indicator! Your posts continue to be small joys in the day, and often the day’s only opportunity to “be” outside. Apropos of fall, I hear there’s a great beechnut crop this year and wonder if that might explain the lack of interest in the drops under our apple trees?

    October 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    • It is a fantastic year for beechnut mast! Could explain your lack of visitors to your apple tree, although black bears, porcupines and deer seem to relish apples regardless of the availability of other food.

      October 21, 2011 at 1:23 am

      • ht

        That’s usually our observation as well, but this year we’re still waiting. Perhaps there will be more activity when there’s a serious nip in the air.

        October 21, 2011 at 4:49 am

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