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I Found An All Black Woolly Bear! Does That Mean We Are in For a Harsh Winter?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Being a New England girl, I can always count on seeing woolly bears in the Autumn. If you have never seen a woolly bear before, they are large, fuzzy caterpillars with black and brown bands of color, that will eventually become a Isabella Tiger Moth. They are harmless and can be easily picked up (but please be gentle and put them back). As a child, I was told that the color of the woolly bear was a predictor of the winter weather forecast. According to lore, the more rusty brown on the wooly bear, the milder the winter weather will be.

Yikes! I found one that is all black! Are we in for a CRAZY WINTER?! That's what I thought but I was WRONG!

Turns out that Isabella Tiger Moth Wooly Bears ARE NOT all black. The all black ones are actually a different species of moth (also safe to touch). They are the Great Leopard Moth, not the Isabella Tiger Moth. I am 45 years old and have lived in New England for all but two of those years and I just learned this TODAY! It just shows that it is never too late to learn or unlearn something.

I feel a lot better about the snow prediction now that I know the all black fuzzy caterpillar is not actually a predicting woolly bear! According to several meteorologists I follow, it looks like we are still going to have a bad winter here in New England so my family will be prepared just in case. Either way, I will keep an eye out for the Great Leopard Moth to make an appearance in the near future!

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