November 1, 2016

Woolly bear weather predictions

This weekend we all walked across the street to say hello to our neighbors for a few minutes.  On the way, little Baxter found a huge woolly bear caterpillar.  He was playing with it, letting it crawl up his shirt then wrap around his finger like a ring, when we got over to Frank and Rita's house.  

Frank said, "Oh let me see him.  He's all one color; that means it will be a cold cold winter!"  

I was intrigued.  I love old nature wisdom like that.

When we got home I looked it up.  I wanted to know more.

There is actually a whole page on the Old Farmer's Almanac site called "Woolly Bear Caterpillars and Weather Prediction."  It clarifies that usually these caterpillars have a reddish-orange band around their middle.  The tale is that the narrower the band, the harsher the winter will be.  So since Baxter's little critter seemed to have no band, we may have a particularly bad winter.

People are really into this folktale.  There are counts every year to see how many caterpillars are found with wide or narrow bands in an attempt to predict the winter.  One town in North Carolina even has a Woolly Worm Festival in October, complete with a caterpillar race.  Oh my!  

What's your favorite folktale about how to predict the weather??

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