And the little woolly bear says …

woolly bear caterpillarWith rising fuel costs we’re all concerned with whether this will be a mild or extra cold winter. Last winter wasn’t too bad until the end, then it got rather bitter.

Some people watch to see how busy the squirrels are in hiding nuts away. Do you suppose they ever find all they’ve stored?

This morning, Marshall McPeek, one of the local NBC weathermen, talked about another winter forecaster – the woolly bear caterpillar.

As kids, we all knew about the stories of the size of their color bands being good predictors of the winter weather. The one Marshall had in his story had a wide center band which is supposed to indicate a mild winter. Let’s hope so.

I searched Wikipedia for more info on this caterpillar, but couldn’t find anything. So, I emailed Marshall to get the official name. He was nice enough to quickly return my email with additional info as well.

This little woolly bear is the larva of the Pyrrharctia Isabella moth. It emerges from its egg in the fall. Wikipedia doesn’t believe in the folklore of the woolly bear, but then they’re supposed to be a “factual” resource of info.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells a different story of the tests that were done to arrive at the rationale for the folklore. Some people in the late 1800’s actually bothered to measure the black and orange bands over a period of years and compared it to the following winter weather.

Marshall also mentioned that Vermilion (between Cleveland and Toledo) actually has a Woolly Bear Festival. They have woolly bear races and use the winning woolly bear to predict the coming winter’s weather. Their web site says they have a parade and other festivities rivaling the 4th of July. Go figure!

Watching a woolly bear RACE must be as exciting as watching paint dry. The Murph thinks wiener dog races are a whole lot more exciting!

 

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