Wooly Worm Predictions for Winter 2015-2016

Carolyn’s Compositions





NOTE: There is no photograph of a wooly worm on this spot because I haven’t seen one this year. If anyone in Southwestern Pennsylvania has shot a picture of one please send it to me at chollandnews @ yahoo.com.

Sent to me 1/4/2016 by Sharon Overfelt, 30-35 north of Nashville, Tenn., on the Kentucky border

Sent to me 1/4/2016 by Sharon Overfelt, 30-35 north of Nashville, Tenn., on the Kentucky border

Photo sent to me by Misty Cook: taken at Laurel Hill State Park on the walkway

Photo sent to me by Misty Cook: taken at Laurel Hill State Park on the walkway

Sent to me January 1, 2016, by Amy in central PA (Northumberland County)

Sent to me January 1, 2016, by Amy in central PA (Northumberland County)

Since 2011 my former online magazine, CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, has posted an article on the wooly worm and its winter predictions. Today I bring you excerpts from years past as well as excerpts from three current websites.

Oh, the wooly worm!

I was introduced to these fuzzy little creatures shortly after moving to Kansas City in 2007. Since then I’ve kept track of their “predictions,” and I must say these little worms have a pretty good track record. From what I understand, the fuzzier they are coincides with some bitterly cold air expected for winter (think fuzzy, warm coats to keep you warm with the cold air in place). I have also learned the color of that fuzz is very important! Brown/reddish colors signal a milder winter where the black fuzz signals a colder winter.

white wooly worm

A few years ago I also found out about the white wooly worms! Did you know that white fuzz means blizzard?! And wouldn’t you know, we did have blizzard conditions a couple of times since I’ve moved to Kansas City (which happened to coincide with the years people saw white, fuzzy worms).

Weather by Caterpillar

Every year around the beginning of September, we start looking for the signs of the winter ahead. We usually mention the weather-lore surrounding acorns, spiders…We also look to a fuzzy little caterpillar which makes its appearance in early fall each year. (They actually appear in the spring as well but seem to go unnoticed at that time of year.) These caterpillars, often referred to as Woolly Worm or Woolly Bear caterpillars have a special ability to predict the weather to come. Depending on the color of the bands, you may or may not be in for a rough winter.

As folklore goes — you need to look at the black hairs at each end of this tiny creature. Legend has it that the more black hairs a wooly bear has, the worse off the winter. If the caterpillar has more orange, then the winter will be mild.


…in an era when most weather forecasting is performed by computers or through the use of satellite or radar imagery…the Farmers’ Almanac carries with it a “magical kind of feel.”


According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the winter of 2015–2016 is looking like a repeat of last winter, at least in terms of temperatures with unseasonably cold conditions over the Atlantic Seaboard, eastern portions of the Great Lakes, and the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, most of the Tennessee and Mississippi Valley, as well as much of the Gulf Coast.

New Englanders will once again experience a very frigid (shivery) winter (Déjà vu).

In these areas, Ms. Nature will mix intervals of unseasonably mild temperatures with occasional shots of bitter cold; average it out and it comes out–average!

Texas and the other South Central States will see a cool to cold winter, but nothing too extreme.

Farther west, over the Rockies, the Colorado Plateau, Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest States, milder than normal temperatures are expected.


Precipitation-wise, if you like snow, then you should head out to the northern and central Great Plains (most of the North Central States), the Great Lakes, New England (sorry Boston!), and parts of the Ohio Valley where snowier-than-normal conditions are forecast.

Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, the winter will be stormy with a good amount of snow. We are “red-flagging” the second week of January and the second week of February for possible heavy winter weather with a long, drawn out spell of stormy weather extending through much of the first half of March. So sharpen those skis and boards, because the eastern slopes look like the ideal places to carve some turns.

An active storm track will bring above-normal precipitation to the Southeast States, as well as the Mississippi Valley, Southern Great Plains, the Gulf Coast, and along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Another area of above-normal precipitation (thanks to incoming storms from the Pacific) will cover much of the Pacific Northwest.

Near-to-below normal winter precipitation will cover the rest of the country, which includes much of the drought-stricken areas in the Southwest.

Whether the wooly worm agrees is undetermined, as the 38th annual woolyworm festival held in Banner Elk, North Carolina, isn’t scheduled until October 17th – 18th 2015.

Wooly Worms Predict the 2011 PA. Winter Weather

I have yet to see one. Perhaps it’s because of the rainy, wet, beginning of the autumn season. Whatever, I’ve been looking for them. After all, it will be nice to know what snows and storms Mother Nature will deliver between December and April.

What I’m looking for is the wooly worm, an autumnal predictor of the next season’s severity. The woolly bear is a fuzzy larva of the tiger moth found in the Midwest and Northeast.* It is the antithesis of Punxsutawney Phil, who predicts the final six weeks of winter. The wooly worm predicts the severity of the winter season:

  •  The way to “read a caterpillar” is: the smaller the brownish-red bands are the harsher the winter will be. The black stripes indicate snowy and cold weather while the brownish-red bands indicate…CONTINUE

The 2012-2013 Weather Prediction from the Woolly Worm & Accuweather

Two weeks ago when my friend Mary visited me she brought with her disastrous news: the 2012-2013 winter weather will be severe.

She’d seen a wooly worm. And it was all black.

In our neck of the woods (Southwestern Pennsylvania) the woolly worm is an autumn insect that can tell us what to expect in the coming winter weather.  What we refer to as the woolly worm is more accurately called the Banded Woolly Bear, the larval stage of the moth Pyrrharctia isabella. It’s common name, woolly bear, refers to its long, thick, fur-like hairs called setae

  • seta is a biological term derived from the Latin      word for bristle- or hair-like structures on living organisms (setae is plural). CONTINUE

Wooly Worm Winter Weather Prediction 2013-2014

Twas the 2013 season (October and November) of Wooly Worm Festivals in many United States communities.

Their purpose, beyond that of celebrating a common cause as a community, is to be empowered to survive winter armed with the knowledge of what weather Old Man Winter will bring.

As the late Charles Von Canon (North Carolina) explained, “The Wooly Bear caterpillar has 13 brown and black segments that correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. The lighter brown a segment is, the milder that week of winter will be. The darker black a segment is, the colder and snowier the corresponding week will be.” The winner of the final heat becomes the survivor of the fittest and is used to for prognosticating. It’s been done that way for decades by the local farmers.”  CONTINUE

Woolly Worm’s Prediction for Winter 2014-2015 & 11 Facts About the Woolly Worm

Last autumn I decided to challenge you to a quiz on the wooly worm. Here are a few of the questions…140809-img_0139e


  1. What’s the difference between the woolly worm and the woolly bear?
  2. The woolly worm is well-known because…
  3. The woolly worm is actually not a worm, or a bear. What is it?
  4. How fast do woolly worms crawl? More questions (and answers)
What fun...

What fun…

None of the above informs us about winter predictions for the 2015-2016 winter season. Like other things, only time will answer the question What will the 2015-2016 winter season bring in terms of its weather?


About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
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14 Responses to Wooly Worm Predictions for Winter 2015-2016

  1. Pat Utter also know as Soaring With Golden Eagles says:

    Normanly I trust the woolly Caterpillar. but where I live they spray the ground to keep instect out of arms way this year they didn’t spray. saw a woolly caterpillar today took a picture it was completely Black I call my tribe told me to look out we are going to get a bad snow storm around the 2 nd or 3 rd week in October. Normally I can predicted 3 days before when its going to snow and I have been right everytime. If you every had your shoulder operate in the winter you can tell when it going to rain or snow. We here in the mountains of Maryland we have winter up to June. no spring because we have alot of snow fall. Last we had temperature like -32. when it is in the sub zero weather they call school off kids had school until June 28th this year. So yes I look at the Woolly caterpillar and I call my friends down eat to asked them. People think I am crazy wrong I know what to look for in sign of change like bird cover a field mean bad weather coming. And there is a pine tree near me it was solid Black. Birds hover down when they know bad weather is coming.


  2. Sharon says:

    Dec 28,2015…I live in Middle TN, right near the KY state line. This morning, during a break in an incredible wind/rain storm I took my dogs outside. I saw a woolly worm (and I have seen similar colored ones earlier this year also) with a coat that was almost completely brown with only small tips of black at each end! The one I saw this afternoon was clinging to a piece of wood knocked over by the harsh wind, that I uprighted to act as a shield to one of my dog kennels. The wooly worm (a.k.a. Woolly Bear) was not harmed, but apparently had taken cover there. The others I have seen this year have been on dry Fall days in nearby woods. My daffodils are a ft tall and other ground cover vines are in full bloom today. I lost faith in the Groundhog decades ago as he is frightened back into his hole by all of Punxitawny’s noisy celebration. But Woolly Worms are just out in the wild and in my experience, living in different states, pretty reliable predictors.
    Any one else have observations from your locales? I know the winter is young!


    • I had several responses, one picture was so blurry I couldn’t use it, another was really good (can’t find in e-mail but I searched) but the sender couldn’t manage to send me the photo in recoverable form. I cannot recall what the woolly worm looked like.
      Thank you for your nice comment. Keep your eyes out in fall 2016 for the next predictions, and if you see more woolly worms in TN let me know. I’m southeast of Pittsburgh. Carolyn


  3. Sharon Overfelt says:

    I didn’t even think to take a picture or I surely could have sent it along with my remarks. If I spot another Wooly Worm soon I will be sure to send a photo!


  4. Sharon Overfelt says:

    This morning when I was out with my dogs I was fortunate enough to run across a woolly worm and took several pictures with my iPhone! How can I get them to you?


  5. Sharon says:

    Carolyn, you never replied as to whether or not any of my photos of the woolly worm were worthy of publication. I might note that as severe the cold spell was that we had here a week or so ago, the temperatures have now risen to our norm AND the Groundhog did NOT see his shadow (despite all of the Top Hats and hubbub around him!).
    Again, all of the woolly worms I spied from Fall through winter were almost all brown with just black tips at each end as per my photos.
    Please comment?


    • I emailed you to ask where you are located. I’m sorry if you didn’t get it. The picture is ready to post. Just let me know where the wooly worm was found. Thanks.


      • Sharon says:

        I’m sorry. I never received your e-mail.
        I am located in middle Tennessee off the last exit on I-65 before the Kentucky border. I’m approximately 30-35 miles north of Nashville, TN.


      • I was able to crop the picture successfully, and it shows the hairs on the woolly worm. Thanks for sending it. How is your winter matching up to the prediction of the woolly worm? And now, Punxsatawny (sp.) Phil???


  6. Pam Doverspike says:

    I have 9 to 10 at one time on a bush right outside my front door. Love watching them


  7. Pam Doverspike says:

    Trying to send pics.


  8. K.drake says:

    I livery in central mo. I have seen both white and black wolly worms.


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