Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Predict Winter Weather?


For the past few days something has been lodged in my mind, and I can not shake it out.  There is no connection with this topic and the fate of the world, and yet I am curious about the matter.  (This is yet another example proving my whims dictate content on this blog.)

I change our message on the answering machine with some regularity.  I like the message to reflect the season. 

As such callers now hear that James and I  are outside looking for Woolly Caterpillars so we can determine what type of winter weather can be expected in the months ahead.  Leave your name and…….

Some readers may be saying “What”?!

All my life I can recall first my grandmother, and then my mom making winter predictions for either a cold or snowy winter or a mild one based on the stripe of this cute little fall caterpillar.

This season however it has been hard for me to spot the Woolly Bear Caterpillar.  In fact, it was not until this week when removing a number of Mom’s rocks at the family home in Hancock that I came upon one.  I picked it up and waited until it uncurled from a fetal-like position to see the length of its stripe.

It had just a very narrow brown band.

So what does it mean?

Legend has a wider middle brown section meaning a milder winter season is approaching.  Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.

But does it turn out that way?

We will know in January–if not before.

I am curious to know from my readers around the nation that stop by CP–and have made it this far in this rather eclectic post–if you have a Woolly Bear Caterpillar sighting.  Let me know where you are located, and the width of the brown band.

Now where are the storm windows and the draft dodgers?  It looks like a wintery time ahead….

44 thoughts on “Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Predict Winter Weather?

  1. Tony

    I overheard 2 wooly bears discussing the coming winter. One said to the other, its gonna be a cold one because the humans were putting up extra firewood!!!!

  2. Alex

    I live in London, Ontario, Canada and I found one on the side of my apartment building today and he is almost all brown if you’d like a picture of him let me know and I can email one if you’d like.

  3. madelynloveable124

    I found at least twenty wooly bears in our area and all of them have a wider brown band.I live in Marengo,Ohio,north of Columbus,Ohio

  4. I live in Western MA. and have seen two woolly bears. Both were ALL BLACK which has me scared. We just had one of the earliest and worst snow storms in history. I have never seen all black woolies before. In years past they always had red somewhere.

  5. Bob

    I live in SE Iowa, on Fern Cliff just north of The Eagles Nest in Coppock. All caterpillars I have seen are almost completley brown with black tips. Dry year. Mild winter is approaching per Grandpa.

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