What Woolly Worm Folklore 'Tells' Us About Winter
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What Woolly Worm Folklore 'Tells' Us About Winter

May 31, 2023

I don't know how they do it. They're maybe just a little more than an inch long, and you can STILL see woolly worms, or woolly bear caterpillars, crossing the highway as you're speeding right along.

Of course, from that perspective, it's difficult to see a design, so you can't gather what that tells you about the upcoming Kentucky winter. I've already seen what I thought was a woolly worm and thought, "Uh-oh, that's awfully early." But what is it about these critters that helps us take a better stab at predicting the weather? And if you see one, you might not be seeing what you think you're seeing. Go to the 1:23 mark and you'll see what I mean.

Yeah, if you saw one of those leopard moths and thought it was a woolly worm, you might have thought we are in for big trouble this winter. But tap the brakes; you're off a species.

With that in mind, why exactly did this particular caterpillar become...well...a weather bellwether? For that, I consulted the National Weather Service.

Now, since it IS the National Weather Service--you know, a SCIENCE-BASED agency--they turn right around and "demyth" all of the above:

However, if you regard their science as cynicism, this should make you feel better:

You know, between the Farmer's Almanac, the woolly bear caterpillar, and the upcoming Frymire forecast, we could get a big old bag of mixed signals about winter 2023-2024. Here's what I know. When the time comes--whether the winter is mild or not--I'll be pulling my hoodies and sweaters out of their respective totes. I actually look forward to doing that.