September 4, 2014

Woolly Worm’s Prediction for Winter 2014-2015 & 11 Facts About the Woolly Worm





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Sit and relax?

Sit and relax?

STAY TUNED TO THIS POST for any future updates on the woolly worm’s prediction for winter 2014-2015. The data isn’t out yet. My daughter Sandy reports the first sighting, with black on both ends. If you spot a woolly worm/woolly bear let me know, in the comment box, the color of its stripes and therefore its prediction.


Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site.

My personal first September sighting of the woolly worm was in my daughter’s garden in the late afternoon of September 9. It was hidden in the leaves of a large cabbage she was picking for me: 140809 IMG_0139E

This is the time of year that people actively seek to discover what the coming winter will be like. One resource they search online is the wooly worm a.k.a. woolly bear. In the tradition of past years, I’m posting a feature on the creature, this year in the form of a quiz. Previous posts discuss other aspects of the woolly worm:

Wooly Worm Winter Weather Prediction 2013-2014

The 2012-2013 Weather Prediction from the Woolly Worm & Accuweather

Wooly Worms Predict the 2011 PA. Winter Weather

 Cry foul on the frigid cold---too cold to swim.

Cry foul on the frigid cold—too cold to swim.


  1. What’s the difference between the woolly worm and the woolly bear?
  2. The woolly worm is well-known because…
  3. The woolly worm is actually not a worm, or a bear. What is it?
  4. How fast do woolly worms crawl?
  5. How many stripes does a woolly worm have?
  6. Original studies of the woolly worm were done in 1948 by whom?
  7. How many different species of tiger moths are there?
  8. What two towns celebrate the woolly worm at annual October festivals?
  9. What determines the woolly worm’s coloring?
  10. What special traits do Arctic woolly worms have?


What three ways does the woolly worm pass its winter weather prediction on to us humans?

A bundle

A bundle

Click on MORE to learn the answers.



  1.  Nothing. The winter weather predictor is known as a woolly worm in the south and woolly bear in the Midwest and New England.  Since I’m a New Englander living on the eastern edge of the Midwest I will refer to it as the woolly worm.
  2. Folklore has designated the woolly worm a winter weather forecaster.** Legend has it that Native Americans taught the pioneers how to “read” a woolly worm to predict how bad the coming winter would be.***
  3. A caterpillar.* The larva of a species of tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella), the woolly bear caterpillar is also known as a woolly worm. They average about 1 1⁄2 inches long, and are bristly, with black stripes at each end and a reddish brown stripe in the middle. They curl into a ball when touched*****
  4. At a neck-snapping .05 miles an hour, or about a mile a day.***
  5. 13—one for each week of winter.
  6. In the autumn of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, went 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars. His experiment continued over the next eight years, during which he attempted to prove scientifically a weather rule of thumb that was as old as the hills around Bear Mountain. The resulting publicity made the woolly bear the most recognizable caterpillar in North America. The caterpillar Curran studied, the true woolly bear, was the larval form of Pyrrharctia isabella, the Isabella tiger moth, a medium-size moth with yellowish-orange and cream-colored wings spotted with black.****
  7. Approximately 260 species of tiger moths (the adult of the woolly bear caterpillar)***
  8. Vermilion, Ohio and in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Bannner Elk “Woolly Worm Festival” is highlighted by a caterpillar race. Retired mayor Charles Von Canon inspects the champion woolly bear and announces his winter forecast.****
  9. How long it’s fed: the better the growing season the bigger it will grow.   Its age: this results in a narrower red orange band in its middle. The caterpillars shed their skins or molt six times before reaching adult size. With each successive molt their colors change, becoming less black and more reddish.     And its species.***
  10. The Arctic wooly worms can spend at least 14 years in the process of becoming a tiger moth and can survive to temps as low as -90 deg F***


  1. First, read the patches of colored fur or hair. Woolly worms have black bands and reddish-brown bands. According to legend, the thinner the brown bands, the harsher the winter. Or if there is more black, then the winter will be rougher; more brown, then winter will be milder. Take this a few steps further and look at each individual stripe on the worm-one for each week of winter. So, if the worm has 4 black stripes at the front followed by 4 brown stripes, we will have a cold, rough December, then a milder January-in theory.
  2. Second, the thickness of the hair on the worm is a predictor. If the hair is thicker, then the winter will be worse.
  3. And finally, check out the direction it is traveling! If the woolly worm is headed north, then the winter will be milder. If the worm is going south, then prepare for a longer, cold winter. Woolly worm enthusiasts claim there has been an 85% success rate over the last few decades.***


DISCLAIMER: I haven’t checked the above facts for accuracy—











  1. Carolyn, Happy Grand Parents Day to you and Monte!
    I’ll keep a check for the winter forecast!

    Comment by merry101 — September 7, 2014 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

  2. My son and I saw one 9/13/14 in Galina In.It was solid black , but it’s fur was not very thick.

    Comment by cary martin — September 17, 2014 @ 9:14 am | Reply

  3. I found 3 wooly worms all black. We live in wilkes county nc.

    Comment by Rick Gaughan — September 17, 2014 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  4. When me and dad were picking up cans today, we’ve seen a solid black Woolly Bear and it’s fur was thick and usually Woolly Bears don’t grow hair until the end of october or the beginning of november but hey my dad said that the Woolly Bears grew their hair at the end of august and here’s another way to predict weather, The persimmon seed, if it’s a knife then it will be icy cold with heavy winds but if it’s a fork then it will be a mild and kinda nice winter but if it’s a spoon then we’ll have a very cold winter with lots and lots of snow and most people say that all persimmon seeds were all spoons and some claim that the huge snow st

    Comment by Hunter Stewart — September 22, 2014 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  5. orm is a hoax but i don’t believe it, i think that us in indiana are gonna have a very bad winter.

    Comment by Hunter Stewart — September 22, 2014 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

    • May be true. I just hope you are way wrong.

      Comment by Danie — October 30, 2014 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  6. I found an all black willy worm this mornin . 10/17/14. When it walked you could see orange slightly in between the fold . Mostly it looked all black.

    Comment by Sherri Huffet — October 17, 2014 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  7. I saw a wooly worm yesterday (10/29/14). black ends, mostly brown center.

    Comment by Danie — October 30, 2014 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  8. Guess I should have said I was in southeast Indiana with my last post.

    Comment by Danie — October 30, 2014 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  9. Just saw a wooly bear January 17, 2015, Shawnigan Lake, BC.

    Comment by Sheryl — January 22, 2015 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  10. […] Woolly Worm’s Prediction for Winter 2014-2015 & 11 Facts About the Woolly Worm […]

    Pingback by It’s Winter, It’s a Snowstorm: Deal With It | Carolyn's Online Magazine — January 30, 2015 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  11. […] Woolly Worm’s Prediction for Winter 2014-2015 & 11 Facts About the Woolly Worm […]

    Pingback by Wooly Worm Predictions for Winter 2015-2016 | Carolyn's Online Magazine — October 8, 2015 @ 11:52 pm | Reply

  12. North Carolina here seen one yesterday it was all black and going south. O
    h my I hate snow !

    Comment by MARGIE — October 10, 2015 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  13. Just saw one yesterday and it was all black headed south.

    Comment by A — October 12, 2015 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  14. Not sure, but curious….saw one on 10/29/15 here in Missouri, mostly brown and headed south….we’ll see how that works out—–Paul

    Comment by Paul Elder — October 31, 2015 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

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