Whether you call them Woolly Bears, Woolly Worms, or Fuzzy Bear Caterpillars if you listen to the old wives' tale they can predict the upcoming winter weather.

I've seen a few of them at my house and just like when I was a kid I pick them up and examine their bands of black and brown bands. Somehow, in my mind, it made sense to me that these little caterpillars somehow were going to let me know how bad this season's winter was going to be. Of course, as a kid, I thought it predicted how many snow days we would have off from school.

According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found.  The longer the woolly bear's black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be.  Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is associated with a milder upcoming winter.  The position of the longest dark bands supposedly indicates which part of winter will be coldest or hardest.  If the head end of the caterpillar is dark, the beginning of winter will be severe.  If the tail end is dark, the end of winter will be cold. In addition, the woolly bear caterpillar has 13 segments to its body, which traditional forecasters say correspond to the 13 weeks of winter.


So, according to this little fuzzy dude that was spotted near Amsterdam, NY it looks like a really mild start to winter with a harsh, cold, and snowy end to the season. The Woolly Bears I've seen in my yard have had black on both ends indicating a more harsh start and finish to winter. Hummmm, It's almost like there's no consistency to this forecasting tool.  

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