The Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar, also known as the woolly worm or the Isabella tiger moth, is one of the most common furry caterpillars, and the easiest to find due to their orange and black coloring.

According to folklore, that coloring can help predict winter weather forecasts.

Folklore says the woolly bear caterpillar can predict the severity of the winter simply by the length of the red-orange band at the center of its body. Basically, the more red-orange there is the warmer the winter and the less red-orange, the colder, more snowy the winter will be.

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In addition, the woolly bear caterpillar has 13 segments to its body, which traditional forecasters say correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. In the 1940's and 50's scientist C. H. Curran studied these insects to see if these claims were true. This "for-fun" experiment he did was too small and ended up being inconclusive.

The other version of these bugs predicting winter weather has to do with the direction they are seen crawling. If they crawl in a southerly direction are trying to escape the cold winter conditions of the north. But if woolly bears are crawling on a northward path it would indicate a mild winter.

I have noticed that in 2021 I haven't seen a single woolly bear. They are usually all over my parent's yard this time of year soaking in the last of the sun's warmth before fall really sets in. I do find it slightly alarming that I haven't seen these cute little critters out and about.

Take a look at the next banded woolly bear you see, and make your own weather prediction. If you guess cold and snow, you should be dead on for Minnesota.

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