Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars help predict winter weather?
This caterpillar is common across the United States. Covered with reddish brown bristles with black bands at both ends, the caterpillar grows to approximately 2 1/4 inches.
According to folklore, winter’s severity can be predicted based on the width of the brown band. If it is broad, winter will be mild. If narrow, winter will be severe.
Valid? No. The brown band grows toward the ends as the caterpillar ages. Caterpillars from the same group of eggs have greatly varying color bands.
Woolly bears hatch from eggs in the fall and overwinter as caterpillars. A cryoprotectant (anti-freeze) protects its tissues from freezing. In the spring it devours dandelions and plantain and pupates.
The woolly bear caterpillar makes its cocoon by plucking out its own hair and weaving a “sweater” for itself, one hair at a time.
Have you ever wondered what the woolly bear caterpillar becomes? What emerges from the cocoon? Is it a moth or a butterfly?
The common woolly bear caterpillar pupates into an Isabella Tiger Moth. The moth lives through the summer, lays eggs in the fall and dies.
If you find a woolly bear’s abandoned cocoon, look for a small hole at one end. The moth secretes an enzyme to dissolve a hole just big enough to squeeze through. The hole is so small that it compresses the moth’s abdomen upon exit, forcing blood into the limp, crumpled wings.
This torturous exit struggle is a necessary part of the moth’s life. If you “help” a moth or butterfly by cutting open it’s cocoon or chrysalis to aid its emergence, it will die without ever being able to use its wings.
Read the prequels in this series on Monarch Butterflies and their significance for the creation/evolution controversy:
1. Insect GPS
2. Monarch Butterflies
3. Caterpillar or Butterfly—Which Was First?
4. Monarch Caterpillars
5. Morphing Monarchs
6. Changing Chrysalis
7. Emerging Monarchs
8. Butterfly vs. Caterpillar
9. Migrating Monarchs
10. Navigating Monarchs
11. Monarchs on Noah’s Ark?
12. Monarch or Viceroy?
13. Butterfly Evolution?
14. Butterfly or Moth?
15. Mexican Jumping Beans
Read the sequel:
19. Woolly Bears and the Problem of Pain
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Thursday March 4, 2010 A.D.
And Yahweh made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and Yahweh saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25)