Winter Prediction

Folklore weather predictions – there must be millions of them, and rightly so. Weather used to rule people’s lives, and at a time before radar and the weather channel, almost any form of forecasting was embraced, long-term forecasting being a particular art form.

I think the folklore surrounding the Woolly Bear caterpillar is my favorite… the severity of the upcoming winter can be determined by the size of the woolly bear’s brown band. The thinner the band, the harder the winter.

I could debunk this one… talk about how the brown bands in caterpillars from the same clutch of eggs can vary widely, but I’m not going to – I like this folk tale.

What do we know about the woolly bear?

• The Woolly Bear (officially, the “Banded Woolly Bear”) caterpillar is the larva of the Isabella Tiger moth.

• It appears from the egg in fall – surviving the winter by producing a cryoprotectant to keep from freezing. Woolly Bear anti-freeze, if you will.

• The bristles, seen above do not irritate, sting or inject venom… really just a friendly little caterpillar. It’s main defense is to play dead when touched.

So, according to this Woolly Bear, it looks like it could be a tough winter here in Wisconsin.

Canon EOS 5D
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM


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