Woolly Bear Winter Prediction

We can now accurately predict the harshness for Northern Virginia’s upcoming winter. Based on the purely scientific method of Woolly Bear analysis, we have a prediction for winter 2009. The ratio of black to brown bands on the Woolly Bear can foretell the harshness of the upcoming winter. More black the harsher the winter; more brown predicts a gentler winter.

How does the Woolly Bear accomplish this task? When the caterpillars grow during a wetter fall, the black bands will be larger then the brown one. A wetter fall sets a trend toward a wetter and milder winter.

Woolly Bear with smaller black bands, Fall 2008

I found this Woolly Bear in Sky Meadow’s State Park. The smaller black bands on his body predict we will have a mild winter. Don’t worry about buying a new snow shovel this year; the Woolly Bear has spoken.

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21 thoughts on “Woolly Bear Winter Prediction

  1. I love the Woolly Bear! He is so cute! He must love me too. Why? Because I don’t like real cold weather. Chris, your photography of Woolly is amazing. I am surprised how you could find such a little creature in such a large magnificent park.

    OK, Woolly Bear, I am going to hold you out for temps for winter ’08-’09!

  2. Who needs the weatherman! We have Chris and the Woolly Bear. My horticulture class ‘farmers’ have been arguing over whether the winter weather will be cold or mild. Wait til I show them this blog. They will probably be out searching for Wooly Bear’s cousin in lieu of reading the farmer’s almanac.
    What a great science learning tool for observation and inquiry.
    And what a great photgraph!

  3. Wooly Bear, Wooly Bear
    We count the colors of your hair
    Our God’s devised such witty creatures
    With practical and stunning features
    His wit is timeless, for each season
    Chris has discoverd Wooly’s reason
    For existing…it’s God’s plan
    An Almanac from Heaven for man.
    Thank you Chris, we can apply
    What you have shown us with your “eagle eye.”
    Wooly Bear, Wooly Bear
    We count the colors of your hair

  4. My students think this is really cool; although they wish it would be a little bit blacker because they love snow days. They think it is so cool how Chris was able to find this Wooly Bear in such a big park.

  5. More woolly bear info:
    Your woolly bear will turn into a “tiger”.

    “The woolly bear caterpillar isn’t really a bear at all. This little guy is as tame as a teddy bear. Capture it for the winter and watch it spin its cocoon in the spring. Finally your “bear” will turn into a “tiger”-an Isabella Tiger Moth.

    How to Capture a Bear

    1. Find a brown and black banded woolly bear caterpillar in October (check the lawn, garden, or even the road)
    2. Put it in a clear plastic jar with a lid (be sure to punch holes in the lid)
    3. Add a twig in the jar and include some fresh grass for your bear to eat. Note: Put fresh grass in everyday. Soon your bear will tire of perching on the twig and will go to sleep on the bottom.
    4. Remove any remaining grass but leave the twig in the jar all winter long.
    5. Find a place outside that is protected from bad weather (a covered porch is nice) and you will be able to watch it hibernate.
    6. In the spring, when weeds start to turn green it is time to feed your bear. Feed it fresh grass every day. Soon it will spin its magic cocoon of silk.
    7. In about a week it will become the Isabella Tiger moth. On a nice day, take the jar outside and set your “tiger” free.”

    From the Backyard Wildlife Habitat.info

  6. Wow! What a great ‘shot’ of the woolly bear, Chris. I didn’t know we could learn of our winter weather, by the colors on the woolly bear. Thanks for the info!!

  7. Oh, after I posted my comment here, I looked at the picture of the woolly bear again…..did anyone notice that it appears to have two dark parallel lines running through the brown hair?

  8. My students recognized the dark bans running parallel. They yell Mrs. O that’s it, it is darker than you think. Snow is on the way!

  9. Yes but those dark parallel stripes are SKINNY. More brown, less snow, I pray. However, teachers crave the SNOW DAY as much as the kids, that is true!!

  10. Gary, I want a Woolly Bear for Christmas already in the jar with the twig. This would be such a great project for the classroom of all ages.

  11. I love the Woolly Bear. This picture brought back some childhood memories. I remember watching the Woolly Bear when I was alittle girl. What a cute little “weatherworm”. Thank you Chris, for sharing this beautiful photo and information of the Woolly Bear. Sara, Can’t wait to see your Christmas present from Gary.

  12. Thank you Chickenfarmer for spurring Gary on to get my a woolly bear for Christmas. And, if and when I get one I am going to spray paint a little more brown on him!

  13. Chickenfarmer and Needles, I am guessing that you need to rush out and find a woolly bear in your region for your weather forecast. They might be region specific!

  14. From reading some online sites and my Audobon field guide to insects this is what I found: The Wooly Bear (Isia isabella) begins as a an egg, hatches into a larva (small caterpillar); feeds a lot for about 4 weeks on low-growing plants mostly wild in the fields (usually does not damage crops or ornamentals); turns into a pupa (larvae breaks down, adult form starts) where it spends the winter under old boards or tree bark; spins a web around itself (pupal stage); goes through metamorphasis and emerges in spring as a brownish/orange moth with black spots. Moths mate in spring, lay eggs on leaves and the cycle begins again.

  15. I found this article about the life cycle of the wholly bear. It depends upon the area of the U.S. as to the life cycle of the Wooly Bear. According to the article, the banded woolly bear each produce two generations per season in the Northeastern U.S., whereas the fall web worm may produce up to four generations yearly in the South. Over winter the partially grown caterpillars will resume feeding and growth the following spring.

  16. Gary, You are right. Needles and I need to go on a safari for a Woolly Bear. We can use this “weatherworm” to help us determine if we need to go shopping for a new sweater or not.

  17. Hey Nathaniel, did you discover from this picture that woolly bear is a woolly mammoth? Or, did you know it? Have you ever seen one? If so, where?

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