Never Trust a Woolly Caterpillar

Folklore holds that you can predict the severity of the coming winter by observing the coloration of woolly bear caterpillars. The more brown, the milder the coming months will be. 

Woolly bears overran the farm about a month ago. They were absolutely everywhere! And you know what? They all looked like this:

Lepidoptera - Arctiidae - Pyrrharctia isabella...

Black head and tail with a lot of brown in between. That allegedly means a nice, gentle winter. Maybe I was just seeing what I wanted to see because if today is any indication of how the winter will go, woolly bears lie! It snowed. Not just a few flakes mixed it with some drizzly rain. Real, honest-to-goodness, stick-to-the-pastures snowed.

While they make awful meteorologist, they are pretty cool bugs. They hatch in the fall, but don’t turn into tiger moths until spring. They basically cryo-freeze themselves to survive the winter. I’m not making that up. They actually produce a cryoprotectant that preserves their tissue even though their hearts stop for months. This super-power allows them to thrive in otherwise uninhabitable places, like the Arctic.

I wish I was a woolly bear and could cryo-sleep through winter.

Another interesting observation: chickens won’t eat them.

5 thoughts on “Never Trust a Woolly Caterpillar

  1. While I love being snowed in (as long as I don’t have to go anywhere) and having a couple of days of tobogganing – I wouldn’t mind a mild winter – at least for another few weeks. I don’t think I’ve heard any forecasts for this winter as yet, we had such a great summer though, we won’t complain whatever we get.

  2. Pingback: Location, Location, Location | Girl Gone Farming

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