Fauna of the Week--Woolly Bear Caterpillars
There are a lot of alternative spellings for our Fauna of the Week. "Woolly Worm," "Wooley Bear," and any combination thereof seem to be fair game. You see I've selected the blended approach.
These guys are found all over North America. In Banner Elk, NC they host a "
" just to race these little puppies. According to
, Banner Elk is not alone, but I'm going to give the shout-out to the locals.
Unlike the Giant Leopard Moth I wrote about
, the Isabella Tiger Moth (real name!) is not as large in circumference, does not have red bands between the segments (when rolled up), and is not quite as prickly. The Isabella, to my observation, was not as defensive, either. She spent a lot less time rolled up. Much more inclined to get on with things.
"Things," right now, is the selection of a good spot to overwinter.
likes to hide under logs, rocks and other relatively solid things that provide a little protection for the season. When it settles down to hibernate, its cells put out a type of cryoprotectant (think antifreeze) that can protect it to minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That's some serious antifreeze!
This caterpillar will eat any number of grasses, clovers and "weeds," which also include cabbage, spinach and lots of other things that were intended to go into my stomach instead of hers. But I digress.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention Isabella's predictions for the season. In short, black means nasty and red means mild. If the head of the caterpillar has a longer black band, it means that the start of winter will be the worst. Now. I found another of these fellows, primarily red, on the other side of the mountain--so does this mean that Brevard is going to have a worse time of it than Enka, NC? Only time will tell!
Be sure to check out the other links included in this post--the festival site has a more specific weather forecast, and
(my primary source) has a fun YouTube video covering more detail than I've provided here. Great stuff for the kids!