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Caterpillars and a Rough Winter

Here is a common question this time of year. There is an old folklore about caterpillars. What does the coloring of a woolly bear mean? I have seen some where they are mostly brown. Does this mean a hard and snowy winter in the East?

Next to Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous weather prognosticators in the animal kingdom are the lowly caterpillars. Legend has it that the color and thickness of a caterpillar is a determinant of the upcoming winter. Here is how it goes:

The woolly bear caterpillar tells if it is a bad winter if there are a lot of them crawling around, if he has a heavy coat and if the black band on his back is wide. The more black than brown he is or the wider the black stripe, the worse the winter. A narrow orange band in the middle of the caterpillar warns of heavy snow. If this guy is fat and fuzzy, it means presage bitter cold.

If you want to be your own weather forecaster, he are 10 signs of a rough winter:

* Very thick onion skins or corn husks.

* Woodpeckers sharing a tree

* Early arrival of crickets on the hearth

* Spiders spinning larger webs

* Lots and lots of acorns

* Raccoons have thick tails

* Squirrels gather nuts early in the year

* Pigs gather sticks

* Frequent halos around the sun or moon

* Heavy and numerous fogs in August

There are many other things to observe. If you see any, pass them along.

Peter Geiger is the Editor of the Farmers' Almanac. Read his full biography.

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matt

tons of crickets in the house ,saw a two woodpeckers on the same tree man i would like to see a good snow in va this year looks like it to me not to mention all them huge caterpillers

Lori

I live in central Ohio and have seen a few woolly bears around my porch. They seem to be heading north and have a large orange stripe not too much black. I hope it is a mild winter ,we had a mild summer. Thanks!

dap

Upstate NY we are having very furry caterpillars with a really wide rust strip and short black ones this year. Usually we get tons and tons of snow so maybe this year we will have a repreave hopefully lol.

Audrey

In southern Ontario I have seen furry brown caterpillars with one wide black stripe on each end of their body. What does this mean. From the information, I would say a cool winter with snow, is this correct?

Briana

Yesterday we had 10 very furry caterpillars with wide black strips on the backs. 9/4/09. Great, it doesn’t usually get too bad here in southern Virginia, looks like it will be different this year!

bob

We just found a caterpillar walking on the kicthen floor.1/1/2009

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