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Monday, November 15, 2010

Wooly bear caterpillar

I wasn't able to find out why these caterpillars are called wooly bears. The wooly part seems easy enough - look how furry they are! Maybe the bear part comes from the way they hibernate during the winter. They aren't actually furry, more like bristly. Those hairs are all quite stiff, and it can be remarkably difficult to pick one of these up. It's easier to let them crawl onto your hand.

There's a persistent legend that these caterpillars foretell the severity of the winter by the size of the middle band. If it's long, winter will be mild; thin, and winter will be severe. This guy seems to be saying we'll have an easy winter.

For the scientists among us, this caterpillar is the larval form of the Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia isabella.


  1. head or tail?

    in Borneo, we had black ones. you would not touch them, you get terrible hives.

  2. Our wooly bears must have a thin stripe. Snow is in our forecast for Western Washington this week!


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