Friday, November 27, 2009

My Woolly Bear Winter Prediction

A woolly bear caterpillar, the larval form of
the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella)

This is my mostly annual winter weather prognostication for 2009-2010: The equal sized bands of the woolly bear caterpillar that we found out in the woods this fall are forecasting a normal winter. Sort of disappointing for me. I wanted to see a good, hard winter for my first New Hampshire winter. The woolly bear became famous because
  • In the fall of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, took his wife 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars.
  • Dr. Curran collected as many caterpillars as he could in a day, determined the average number of reddish-brown segments, and forecast the coming winter weather through a reporter friend at The New York Herald Tribune.
  • Dr. Curran's experiment, which he continued over the next eight years, 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.

A funny thing: I can't remember ever seeing an Isabella tiger moth. You can see them at You can also read more scientific information about them there!

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1 comment:

  1. Since I don't live in a beautiful spot, I'd just as soon have a mild winter. Maybe if we have a mild winter here, we can send some of our cold and snow to you and you can have a more severe one--wanna trade?


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