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Do Woollybears Predict the Winter Weather?

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Every year, I go on a hunt for the banded woollybear (the caterpillar stage of the isabella moth, Pyrrharctia isabella).  I never set out looking for it,  but I catch myself moving around leaves, and looking under plants as cooler weather sets in.  It has become a habit for me.  Something I have done since I was a toddler, I guess.  That annual hunt just to get an idea of what the winter weather will be like.

You can say, "that's just folklore", and deep down, I know the truth, but we all wait for the groundhogs shadow, right?  We all do it, come on, admit it!

You know the caterpillar I'm referring to, right?  It has a thick coat of bristly rust colored hair with black bands on both ends. It's these bands that tell us how long winter will be.  You know the story, the wider the black bands, the worse our winter weather will be.

Well, here is the science on the matter.  Scientists report that the bands have nothing to do with weather.  They say the bands change from year to year depending on the age of the caterpillar, as well as how much wetness has been in the caterpillar's habitats. Older woollybears have wider black bands than young ones, and caterpillars that lived in an area with a wetter climate that fall, had larger bands than those that lived in a drier area.

Well, that is what they say!  I was informed by the woollybear I ran into, that this year will be a chilly one here in Minnesota!

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