Some Say It’s Folklore. Some Say It’s Real.

Wooly Bear caterpillar may predict snow. Then again, they may not. Credit: Harriet Wallis
Wooly Bear caterpillar may predict snow. How do they do that?
Credit: Harriet Wallis

Wooly Bear caterpillars are cool dudes. Their fuzzy bodies are black at both ends and orangish in the middle.

Winter enthusiasts examine that orangish band to learn what the coming winter will bring. A narrow band predicts a cold winter with precipitation. A broad band foretells a warm winter.

The bug’s celebrity status began in 1948 when Dr. C. H. Curran, a curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, gathered the critters and took measurements trying to correlate the width of the band to the weather.

He did this for eight years. Perhaps Wooly Bears were a good excuse to get out of the city in the name of science.

Wooly Bears are found throughout the country, but they’re more prevalent in the eastern states.

Wooly Bear produces Tiger Moth which predicts weather, maybe. Credit: Harriet Wallis
Winter forecaster Wooly Bear produces a Tiger Moth. Credit: Harriet Wallis

The caterpillar is the larval from of the rather bland Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia Isabella).

I know old time Vermonters who use a different method to predict the winter. They sit on the porch and count how many loads of firewood go by.

There are other folklore methods. If the weeds grew extra tall in summer, it means a snowy winter. And ample acorns and apples with thick skins predict a cold, snowy winter.

Please excuse me now. I’m going to look for some Wooly Bears and bite into an apple.

Read more about skiing and from Harriet Wallis at


  1. Informative yet fun.

  2. I’m headed to the yard to search for woolly caterpillars

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