I think most people are familiar with with the folklore concerning the Woolly Bear caterpillar: the longer the black bands, the longer and more severe the winter. To be honest, according to my lifetime of anecdotal observations, this is a totally unreliable means of predicting how snowy or cold a winter might be. Just look at these two Isabella Tiger Moth larvae (a.k.a. Woolly Bears, a.k.a. Pyrrharctiae isabellae) I found a couple of weeks ago:
They don’t exactly look the same, do they? No. And that’s the problem I encounter every year. Arguably, though, taking these two into account, I can see a slight argument for a relatively mild winter. I guess.
What really confused me when I was younger were the Woolly Bears that weren’t really Woolly Bears. For instance, this fellow, the Virginia Tiger Moth caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica), is entirely blond:
Is he trying to tell me that I should winter in California? No. Absolutely not.
Finally there are some decidedly un-woolly but incredibly interesting caterpillars that hang about in the fall. I think that this Eastern Comma caterpillar (Polygonia comma) is just perfect for Halloween, when it made its appearance:
Just don’t ask it about snow.