Winter Weather Predictor?

Are woolly worms or woolly bear caterpillars accurate predictors of winter weather? Yes, I know, a silly question as they aren’t – nothing too scientific about their coloring, but it’s still fun to guess what the composition of their red and black stripes mean.

I found an article on Organic Gardening that says the key is the length of the reddish- brown stripe in the middle – is it shorter or longer than the black on the ends? If it is shorter, the woolly bear predicts it will be a harsh winter. If it is longer, then a mild winter.

I seem to remember as a kid something to do with the length of the black on either end of the caterpillar. Can someone help me out? I thought the length of the black was correlated to the beginning and end of winter, but I don’t recall the particulars.

On my recent trip to western Maryland, there were lots of woolly bears to be seen. In fact, most of them shared a similar color pattern: a longer black section in the front, the reddish-brown section, and then a shorter black section on the back end.

woolly_worm_2013_webGiven the looks of this guy, I would say the reddish-brown section is longer than the blacks. So….will we have a mild winter? Only time will tell, but these are cool little caterpillars.

Oh, and someday, I just may visit Banner Elk, North Carolina, in October to attend their Woolly Worm Festival. Sounds like a hoot!

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