Imagine Christmas garland, the colourful artificial kind, and then picture it in more earthy tones, and that’s what this photo reminds me of. It’s actually a caterpillar that narrowly escaped being shoe goo while I was out on a hike with my hubby. I noticed him right at the last moment. Phew, because he is kind of cute isn’t he TBM?
From what I can tell from the internet, this is a woolly bear caterpillar which turns into an Isabella tiger moth. Apparently, this medium-size moth, with yellowish-orange and cream-coloured wings spotted with black, is common from northern Mexico throughout the United States and across the southern third of Canada.
Even though they look all furry and soft, woolly bears do not actually feel much like wool—they are covered with short, stiff bristles of hair. And typically, the bands at the ends of the caterpillar are black, and the one in the middle is brown or orange, giving the woolly bear its distinctive striped appearance. What I found really fascinating is that according to legend, the wider that middle brown section is, the milder the coming winter will be. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the winter was like in 2008, the year this photo was taken, but it’s an interesting theory.
Believe it or not, Banner Elk, North Carolina, actually holds an annual “Woolly Worm Festival” each October, highlighted by a caterpillar race. The champion woolly bear is inspected and then the winter forecast is announced. I guess it’s not much different from our Groundhog Day where if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow it means an early Spring. What do you think of folklore like this? Do you believe in it?