Woolly Bear predicts easy winter

Posted on: September 17, 2015 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

This woolly bear caterpillar has coloring indicating an easy winter.

This woolly bear caterpillar has coloring indicating an easy winter. Those aren’t eyes, they are raindrops. Photo by Doug Oster Trib Total Media

Folklore says the wider the orange/brown band on a woolly bear caterpillar, the milder the winter will be.

The caterpillar on the right predicts an easy winter, and we could sure use one after the last two tough seasons.

The legend of the woolly bear predicting the weather dates back to 1948 according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Dr. C.H. Curran went searching for caterpillars, collected as many as he could find, recorded the size of the orange/ brown band and waited to see what winter was like.

He continued for the next eight years and concluded that the bigger the orange/brown band, the milder the winter.

Often times each woolly bear caterpillar will have different coloring in the same season. I just happened to find one with lots of orange, I’m not looking for another.

Scientists discount the folklore, but any hope of an easy winter is welcomed. Can this cute little caterpillar really do worse than the weatherman?

If you love woolly bear caterpillars, then check out the festival in their honor on October 4, 2015in Vermillion, Ohio.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”