A local weather meteorologist has been talking lately about the woolly bear caterpillar and the old folk tale about it being used to predict the severity of the coming winter. I have seen a couple of these caterpillars in my backyard and I am not sure what to make of it – one was solid black and the other was half-brown and black. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the woolly bear:
“Folklore of the eastern United States and Canada holds that the relative amounts of brown and black on the skin of a woolly bear caterpillar (commonly abundant in the fall) are an indication of the severity of the coming winter. It is believed that if a woolly bear caterpillar’s brown stripe is thick, the winter weather will be mild and if the brown stripes are narrow, the winter will be severe. In reality, hatchlings from the same clutch of eggs can display considerable variation in their color distribution, and the brown band tends to grow with age; if there is any truth to the aphorism, it is minimal.”
Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrharctia_isabella
Makes for interesting conversation, anyway.