Can a Woolly Bear Caterpillar predict our winter weather?
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There’s an old folklore that says that the stripes, or bands, on the woolly bear caterpillar will reveal the details to the winter season. Depending on the extent of the orange or black strips depends on the severity or mildness of the season. The caterpillars have already been spotted around the Mid-South, so let’s discuss, according to the folklore, what they’re revealing about the season.
First, what do the stripes mean?
A woolly bear caterpillar has orange and black bands. Larger orange bands mean a mild, calmer winter. While the black bands mean a harsher, longer and colder winter ahead. The position of the black band also reveals which part of winter will be more harsh, whether the black band is longer on the front or back half of the caterpillar. So, if the black band is longer at the front extent of the caterpillar then the start of winter will be harder than the end of winter.
What does this mean for the Mid-South?
One woolly bear caterpillar found by our own Ron Childers here in Memphis looks to show all black lines. The caterpillar’s wool is rather thick making it hard to see the thin orange lines on this particular one. So, in accordance to the folklore and this woolly bear caterpillar, the entire winter season in the Mid-South will be severe as in colder, harsher, and with a greater extent of winter precipitation.
But, can woolly bear caterpillars actually predict the weather?
Just like other folklores, tales and myths, the belief is up to your discernment. Meteorologist look at overall, large-scale weather patterns and models to predict the details of an upcoming season within an area. Even with models, patterns, and woolly bear caterpillars the atmosphere can shift and surprise us all. Keep it here with the First Alert Weather team for the latest week to week forecast as we head over the fall then eventually into the winter season.
Maggye McCallie – First Alert Meteorologist
FACEBOOK: Meteorologist Maggye McCallie
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