DETROIT (WWJ) – You may have seen this little guy around: He’s long, fat and fuzzy — and has a lot of orangish-brown color this year.
But can the banded woolly bear caterpillar really predict the weather?
Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell explained that some believe this color wholly bear signals the coming of a mild winter.
“I’ve read where some people suggest it’s an indication of food quality and food quantity that the caterpillar fed on in the summer months; and the better the food, the longer the orange bar in the middle,” Russell said. “And, hence, if you were thinking that that predicts the weather, then it would then indicate a wild winter coming up.”
But don’t get too excited just yet. Russell told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill he has seen no definitive scientific studies.
“I really don’t think that the relative lengths of the bands of brown and back on the caterpillar has anything to do with the weather,” Russell said, basically chalking up any connection between the two to simply folklore.
“I’m not sure how this one got started, but some people think that a groundhog, you know, if it sees its shadow on February 2nd predicts how much more winter we have — and I don’t take any stock in that either,” he said.
One thing is certain, Russell says that if it survives, the woolly bear caterpillar will turn into an Isabella Tiger Moth.