What’s the Prediction?

Here are two woolly bear caterpillars photographed the same day, not more than 50 yards apart. As you can see, they have very different markings. So what does that mean for the upcoming winter?

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 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. 

In addition, the woolly bear caterpillar has 13 segments to its body, which traditional forecasters say correspond to the 13 weeks of winter.

Next week, we’ll tell you what the National Weather Service says about woolly bear caterpillars and their winter predictions. In the meantime, tell us what you think the different woolly bears mean.