According to folklore, you can predict the weather by looking at the bands on these caterpillars. If the brown band is wide, the winter will be mild. If there is more black, the winter will be cold and snowy. As a skiing and snowboarding enthusiast, I was hoping to find a Woolly Bear with very little brown. I want a lot of snow this year! ❄️
Is the Woolly Bear as skillful a prognosticator as Punxsutawney Phil? Dr. Howard C. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, studied them for 9 years beginning in 1948. The first year, he noticed a definite correlation and his study was published and widely circulated. In the following years, however, his results were inconclusive but the folklore remains. Modern scientists will try to tell you that the coloration is due to habitat conditions, age, region, molting, or natural color variation, but don't listen to all the party poopers. These caterpillars are skilled forecasters, by golly! If a large rodent can predict the weather, so can they! 😆
Even if they can't tell us what the weather will bring, they are fully prepared for any winter weather conditions. They take shelter to protect themselves somewhat, but their ultimate protection from the cold is a type of antifreeze (cryoprotectant) they produce that will allow them to survive subzero temperatures down to -90F. Yes, that's 90 degrees below zero. They may appear to freeze solid, but when spring arrives, they'll thaw and go on about their business of becoming a beautiful moth.