Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woolly, wooly, wooly worms!!

I'm crazy. I know. But my parents made me that way. As my wife has pointed out several times in the past weeks, those fuzzy looking caterpillar insects (Wooly Worms) cannot predict the weather. Well, I beg to differ. I've always been told, if you see a lot of dark ones, then you are in for a bad winter. And, I have only seen dark ones this fall.

Here's a better explanation from "The Green Line" : Folklore has it that woolly worms are really miniature weather forecasters. Careful observation of these short, fuzzy caterpillars in the fall supposedly can tell you what kind of weather the coming winter will hold.

The woolly worms of winter weather forecasting fame are black at each end with a reddish brown band in the middle. The size of the brown band is said to be an indicator of winter's severity. The narrower the band, the harsher the winter. If woolly worms are more brown than black and the middle band tends toward orange, that indicates the winter will be mild.

Well, that's a fun bit of folk wisdom, but it's simply not true. The experts at the West Virginia University Extension Service say there is no scientific evidence suggesting that woolly worms can predict the weather.

Woolly worm is a common name for the larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth. The scientific name for this insect is Pyrrhactia isabella. Other common names for this caterpillar are woolly bears, black-ended bears and banded woolly bears (the name approved by the Entomological Society of America).

Woolly worms grow from 1-3 inches long and are found throughout the United States.

So far, I've seen 4 black tipped worms. 1 in my garage, which I saved by placing him outside on my pear tree, and three crossing the road. Needless to say, I've already dug out the snow shovel, boots, and winter gloves.

Boy, I hate snow!

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