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Second Brood of Woolly Bears Hatches

8-18-14  woolly bear 093Typically we start seeing Woolly Bear caterpillars in October, when they are searching for sheltered spots in which to spend the winter as larvae. With only two months between now and then, it came as a surprise when my great nephew and budding naturalist Eli Holland discovered a very young Woolly Bear recently. It turns out that in New England, there are two broods of Isabella Tiger Moths (whose larval stage is the Woolly Bear). The caterpillars that hibernated last winter emerged from hibernation this past spring, pupated, transformed into adult Isabella Tiger Moths, and proceeded to mate and lay eggs. It is these eggs that have recently hatched, and the Woolly Bear caterpillars that are no bigger than the length of your baby fingernail right now will be eating dandelions, grasses, nettle and meadowsweet nonstop for the next two months in order to survive the coming winter.

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6 responses


    What do Isabella Tiger Moths look like? THNX!!

    August 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

    • A small tan moth with a few black spots on its wings — fairly nondescript!

      August 18, 2014 at 11:55 am

  2. Lisa A Steiner

    I wd say Eli is not budding, he has emerged! How old is he? Your posts are a delight!

    August 18, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    • You are so right! I think he’s 7 – already a master snake catcher (and releaser)!

      August 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    Isn’t that still one brood per year?

    August 18, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    • Darn. You’re right! I forgot to include the second brood! The eggs from spring mating hatch and metamorphose into adults mid-summer, and then lay eggs which hatch later in summer, and these larvae overwinter. Good for you for catching that!!!

      August 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm

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