Can the Woolly Bear Caterpillar Predict the Weather?

Take a fall hike through the woods and you may find that familiar-looking brown and black caterpillar. Some call it a Woolly Bear or a Fuzzy Wuzzy, or its lesser-known name, the Isabella Tiger moth. Yet some call it a hedgehog caterpillar. Whatever you call it, studying this fascinating creature can bring some predictions about how the seasons will progress in your area.

For example, the woolly bear has 13 segments to its body, some say it coincides with the 13 weeks of winter. When you spotted it, in which direction was it crawling in? Folklore says if it's crawling north it could be a sign of a mild winter. If it's heading south - like most of us would like to - it could be a sign of a harsh winter.

According to, the longer the woolly bear's black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be. Therefore, the wider the middle brown band could be a sign of a milder winter.

If you see one, gently touch it and you'll see it curl up and "play dead." I do that when my wife wants me to vacuum.

Fall Fun In South Dakota

We've still got some great hiking weather before winter sets in for good. In that time, check out Newton Hills, the Outdoor Campus, Blood Run, or take a stroll on the bike trails. You're sure to spot them - and it gives the kids a super fun scavenger hunt on the hike. Check out this Guide to Fall Foliage in South Dakota.

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