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October 14, 2012

Legend of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar

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...


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.

Find the truth to other legends.

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