Fuzzy Caterpillars

October 6, 2009

Can Caterpillars Predict the Weather?
There was an interesting post and discussion at the CapitalWeatherGang site today about folklore and predicting winter weather. The Farmer’s Almanac site says:

Narrow orange band in the middle of the Woollybear caterpillar warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars presage bitter cold.

I would say the woolly bear caterpillar I photographed today has a medium width stripe. According to the lore, this is indicative of an average winter. However, this Ohio University article claims the stripe width does not matter:

The truth behind the woolly bear’s band length actually has more to do with age than with predicting the weather. As the caterpillar prepares to overwinter, the caterpillar molts, becoming less black and more reddish-brown as it ages…

“The length of the bands have nothing to do with the severity of winter,” said Bloestcher. “Woolly bears hole themselves up somewhere for winter. What do they care what color they are?”

I actually saw several fuzzy caterpillars today. Does that mean bitter cold is on the way? Well, the Capital Weather Gang forecast mentions a polar cold front coming this weekend with a “small” chance of snow on Monday night.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar
The woolly bear caterpillar turns into the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Hickory Tussock Caterpillar
Caution: The hickory tussock caterpillar has stinging hairs that cause irritation, especially if they get in your eyes.

Hickory Tussock Caterpillar

Hickory Tussock Caterpillar

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9 Responses to Fuzzy Caterpillars

  1. October 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Update: WUSA CBS Channel 9 meterologist Kim Martucci has some disappointing news on her blog re: the Monday chance of Virginia snow

    “Hi guys… the latest model run has the cold air hanging back a little too far west”

  2. November 5, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Update II: Less than two weeks later after the fuzzy caterpillars appeared, we got an October snow: http://www.olddominionwildlife.com/2009/10/18/october-snow-in-virginia/

  3. julie
    September 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

    i saw one in my backyard Hickory Tussock Caterpillar i poked it.

  4. admin
    September 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Julie, that’s cool! I don’t think I’ve seen any this year… but have seen the wooly bear ones recently.

    Have a great day and thanks for commenting.

  5. lela
    March 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    ok i found a fuzzy one and idk if hes pousseni

  6. lela
    March 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    ok i found one and idk if hes poceniss

  7. katie
    March 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    what does the caterpiller eat? i have 1 also, what does it eat when it becomes a moth? and how can u tell if its a boy or girl?

  8. katie
    March 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    the wolly bear caterpillar that is

  9. March 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Hi, I have no idea how to tell if it is a boy or a girl caterpillar. According to this site, the moths drink nectar from wildflowers:

    http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/utah/wingswater/fact_sheets_invertebrates-3-1.pdf

    The caterpillars aren’t picky eaters and eat grass and leaves.

    Here’s another website with info on raising a woolly bear caterpillar:

    http://www.mynatureapps.com/2012/11/observing-the-woolly-bear/

    Good luck!

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