September 4, 2009

Wooly Bears

David St.Lawrence writes at Ripples:
Have you noticed the all-black wooly bears this year?
We may be in for a very severe winter if you believe the Farmer's Almanac.

Here in Floyd, VA, we are seeing an all-black version of the common wooly bear caterpillar without the traditional wooly bear stripes. It is completely black from end to end and has a soft fuzzy coat like a normal wooly bear.

At left is the winter severity legend in pictorial form. Image from the Wooly Bear Festival in Vermillion, OH

According to legend, the severity of the upcoming winter can be judged by examining the pattern of brown and black stripes on woolly bear caterpillars--the larvae of Isabella tiger moths.

If the brown stripe between the two black stripes is thick, the winter will be a mild one. A narrow brown stripe portends a long, cold winter. So, what will happen when there is no brown stripe at all?

This is what a normal Isabella tiger moth wooly bear looks like:

Our black wooly bear was identical to this, but was all black.
All of the indicators are pointing to a cold winter. It is already getting chilly at night. Got two cords of firewood from last year and getting two more from a neighbor. Posted by DaveH at September 4, 2009 8:26 PM