WOOLY WORM PREDICTIONS
FOR THE 2015-2016 WINTER SEASON
WHITE WOOLY WORMS?
WHAT IS THEIR MEANING?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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
- What’s the difference between the woolly worm and the woolly bear?
- The woolly worm is well-known because…
- The woolly worm is actually not a worm, or a bear. What is it?
- How fast do woolly worms crawl? More questions (and answers)
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?