Wooly Worms And Winter Weather Prediction

Published: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 @ 4:17 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 @ 4:50 PM

Every fall, wooly worms emerge around the Miami Valley. Some people say these caterpillars can predict what’s in store this winter.

During the 1970s News Center Seven’s Gil Whitney spoke of the wooly worms’ ability to predict the winter’s severity.

“It was always the wooly worm, the wooly worm. That’s all we heard when he was around,” said Cathy Price of Dayton.

“I just remember it was a big thing with him. I mean, a certain time of year came along and he was talking about the wooly worm,” said Leta Bowden of Dayton. “A lot of people were disagreeing with him, but a lot of times he came out right.”

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A wooly worm is actually the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. It’s a fuzzy caterpillar with bronze and black stripes.

“Evidently, the folklore goes that more black, or the longer the black ends, the more sever the winter’s going to be,” said Dr. Eric Benbow, from the University of Dayton.

The thickness of the caterpillar’s bristles and even the direction is crawls could also offer insight to the upcoming winter.

“But, there really isn’t any scientific evidence to support that,” said Benbow. “I think it’s a neat idea, but the evidence just doesn’t support it.”

Still, some trust the wooly worms’ abilities.

“I think animals have an instinct more than we do sometimes,” said Price.

Others don’t believe the folklore.

“No I don’t,” said Bowden. “Just the way the groundhog can’t predict when we’re going to have spring. But, it’s always fun to think back on these things and enjoy them.”

Whether or not people can count on wooly worms to predict the winter, they can count on them to emerge every fall.

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