Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Wooly Bear Caterpillar...Rural Legend

A Wooly "Teddy" Bear Caterpillar

The other day Mary and I were out for a ride looking at fall colors and came across some Wooly caterpillars crossing the road. It never fails that Mary wants to stop and predict what the winter will be like based on the brown bands that mark the caterpillar. Mary actually picks the caterpillar up; she hates things like that. Maybe it should really be called the Wooly "Teddy" Bear caterpillar.

Isabella Tiger Moth
The Wooly Bear caterpillar is about 2 inches long and covered with stiff bristles; I am guessing that during late summer and early fall this little guy grows himself a winter jacket. A caterpillar is actually the larva of what will become a moth or butterfly; the Woolly Bear caterpillar is the larva of an Isabella Tiger Moth. You can actually capture one and put it in a jar and keep it over winter and watch it become an Isabella Tiger Moth. To find out how to do it check out this website

After researching the the Wooly Bear I discovered that we have been doing it all wrong. We thought that the number of brown rings actually predicted the number of months that our winter will have, and remarkably the little fellow has been accurate because we have always had months of winter. (Yes, yes I did get my "UH-DUH" patch in boy scouts). We ALWAYS get months of winter so yes this little guy is very accurate.

4 1/2 months of harsh winter?
Well, after years of "brown banded" winter predictions (and might I add again, very accurately); we now find out that the black portions of the caterpillar predict the "severity" of our winter. According to legend, the portion of black on the woolly bear's bristle coating forecasts the severity of the coming winter. The longer the black segments on the ends of the caterpillar, the harsher the coming winter. So I am guessing after looking at this one that we will have a harsh 4 1/2 months of winter. This fellow has a rather long black band in front and 4 1/2 brown bands. Winter starts when the snow stays on the ground. Game on!

Well, after inspecting the photographs that we took I came to the realization that winter really is coming, it is going to be exactly what the Lord sends, and there is not much we can do about it. There is an honest to goodness beauty to winter, even if it is cold and there is a lot of snow to shovel, what a gigantic blessing to be here to experience it. I know people that can't seem to enjoy any season of the year because of failure to see the miracle of waking up everyday and just being alive. I understand people have "seasons" in their lives that are not so wonderful, but hang on, change is coming. Life is not about stuff and money it is about loving God and other people. Winter is on the way, so enjoy it.
What does this mean? Know what it is?


  1. Your last picture is so funny. I'm sure it a Llama or an Alpaca sitting down with his ears back, but when I look at again, I can see a huge fuzzy caterpillar with a face.
    Is this a picture you took?

  2. No, I wish I had.I wonder if the person who took this picture was the "spit" on. Llamas and Alpacas or good spitters, and pretty accurate. Too funny.

  3. last pic i saw a face that kind of a tiger face