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Does the woolly bear know something we don't?

According to folklore, no black bands on this woolly bear caterpillar should mean a very short, mild winter. Photo by CJC. (click for larger version)
September 15, 2010 - Are we in for a short, mild winter?

The answer is yes, according to a woolly bear caterpillar spotted Saturday morning on Park St. in Oxford Village.

This particular insect had absolutely no black bands on its tiny, fuzzy body, which based on folklore, means Old Man Winter's not going to have any teeth this year.

The woolly bear caterpillar, a larva that eventually metamorphosizes into the colorful Isabella tiger moth, normally has black bands on both ends of its body and a center that's typically red, orange or brown.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the longer the center section is, the milder and shorter the coming winter.

Conversely, longer black bands mean a longer and harsher winter season.

Ergo, no black bands must mean the upcoming winter's going to be practically nonexistent.

Now eggheads in the scientific community will tell you that the woolly bear's band length actually has more to do with the caterpillar's age than with predicting the weather.

These killjoys in lab coats will tell you that as the caterpillar prepares to wait out the winter season, it molts up to six times, becoming less black and more red, brown or orange as it ages.

But who are you going to believe? Farmers who spend their lives outdoors or scientists who dwell inside laboratories all day.

Oxford doesn't have a groundhog anymore, so we might as well start listening to the caterpillars when it comes to weather predictions.

Just don't take financial advice from the squirrels – they're all nuts. – Editor C.J. Carnacchio

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