Can a woolly bear caterpillar really predict the type of winter you will have?  If this legend is true, then the woolly bear I met on my  walk on the old Union Pacific bike trail last month gave me every indication that we could be screwed this winter.

It’s all about the thickness of the caterpillar’s stripes.  According to my weatherworm, this winter season will be very harsh, have frigid temperatures and icy roads jammed up with fender benders.  I will dream about a trip to the Bahamas for four months.

But, if it’s accompanied with lots of snow, then it will be great for the skiing and tourism industry here in Park City, Utah.  That’s always a great thing.

As of today there is no evidence of a harsh winter,  but it’s still very early in the season.  I would think that the woolly bears go through some type of “psychic weatherworm school” to make sure that they  can maintain their reputation by  getting their predictions right.  It’s probably no fun to be called a “Lyin’ Larva” or a “BS Bear”.

That said, I’ve still got some trust issues.  I’ll probably wait for a bit more evidence before I stock up on long underwear, mittens… and wool of course.  If that woolly bear caterpillar is right,  I’ll finally purchase those cross-country skis and snowshoes that have been on my list for 15 years.  Maybe I’ll even start downhill skiing again.

Will the woolly bear caterpillar weather prediction phenomenon become as popular as Punxsatawny Phil, the royal groundhog of Gobbler’s Knob who starred in Groundhog Day?  Could my little Woolly Bear be named Park City Philly the Woolly Bear and become the grand poobah of woolly bear caterpillars that people come to see year after year? Could this sexless larva star in a major motion picture?

Probably not.  The whole transformation into a moth thing could get in the way.  My little bear has to go through a process that includes hibernating in the winter by becoming almost frozen solid.  Cryo-protective abilities keep it safe.  Once spring comes, it will thaw and become an Isabella Tiger Moth.  This is pretty much a showstopper for any multi-year hoopla for one woolly bear.  Sigh~

Annual Woolly Worm Festivals

There are several cities across the US that feature the creature once a year with pomp and circumstance.

Note:  The woolly bear caterpillar is also called a woolly worm in the south. Woolly is also spelled as Wooly in some areas.   Keep this in mind as you do your google searches 🙂

  • Banner Elk, North Carolina – Woolly Worm Festival.  The 2015 Woolly Worm Festival has been announced for October 17, 18 of 2015. 
    1. Woolly Bear Races determine the grand honor of the Woolly Bear Predictor for the year.   These worms have to win several heats racing up a string.  I’m sure these ambitious creatures train for months prior to the festival…  😉
    2. Entertainment, arts and crafts
  • Beattyville, Kentucky – Woolly Worm Festival
    1. Woolly Worm Parade
    2. Woolly Worm Races
    3. Pet Show
    4. Entertainment, arts and crafts
  • Vermilion, Ohio – This Woolly Bear Festival has several exciting events such as:
    1. Wonderful, Wacky Woolly Bear Parade
    2. Woolly Bear 500 race
    3. Woolly Bear King & Queen Costume Contest
    4. Animal/Pet Woolly Bear Look-A-Like Costume ContestWoolly Bear Festival Vermilion Ohio

This video is a slice of festival life plus scientific speculation on the Woolly Bear.