If you spot a woolly worm (wolly bear) take a close look at its colors, weather lore says they can predict the upcoming winter.

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Photo by Kayla Hughey on Unsplash
Photo by Kayla Hughey on Unsplash
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What is a Woolly Worm?

Before we get into how you can use a woolly worm (some call them woolly bears) to predict the weather, let's first start with, what is a woolly worm.  Well, in short, they're furry brown and black caterpillars that turn into tiger moths.  According to WoollyWorm.com:

The woolly worm (also spelled “wooly worm”) is actually a caterpillar or the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. The tiger moth belongs to the arctiidae family, which has 11,000 species of moths around the world. The tiger moth is a beautiful creature with bright colors such as scarlet, yellow, orange, and white and rich hues ranging from black to beige.

 

How to Predict Winter With Woolly Worms

According to the National Weather Service, the woolly bear weather lore has to do with the color of the caterpillar.  The NWS says that the caterpillar has 13 segments to their body which is believed to correlate with the 13 weeks of winter according to weather lore surrounding the woolly worm.

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According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found.  The longer the woolly bear's black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be.  Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is associated with a milder upcoming winter.  The position of the longest dark bands supposedly indicates which part of winter will be coldest or hardest.  If the head end of the caterpillar is dark, the beginning of winter will be severe.  If the tail end is dark, the end of winter will be cold.

So have you seen a woolly worm yet this year?  If so what did it tell you about winter for our area?

2023 – 2024 Old Farmer’s Almanac Winter Weather Forecast

Gallery Credit: Mary K

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