The 2011 Woolly Worm Report


Not good:

If you believe The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the longer the middle brown band on a woolly worm, the shorter and milder the coming winter. The shorter the brown band, the longer and snowier. According to studies (yes, really, there have been studies) woolly worms are close or completely right 57% of the time.

This one doesn’t even HAVE a brown band! ALL BLACK.

I think I’m scared.

How are the woollies looking this year in your area?

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 7, 2011  

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40 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 11-7

    Oh my,this is not good! I almost don’t want to tell you all, but I will: My cousin in Iowa saw an all black woolly worm too. Let’s hope there are a lot of mainly brown woolies out there and these two are just mutants or something.

  2. 11-7

    I’m in Southwest VA and found one a couple of weeks ago that was all black also. not looking good!

  3. 11-7

    I have been finding all black ones here in S. Michigan, too, lol.

  4. 11-7

    All black here in the northeast part of WV also! According to the National Weather Service we’re supposed to have heavy snow this winter. Yay, right?

  5. 11-7

    Oh MY! That IS terrible!!! Ours mostly have very wide brown middles, I hope that solid black Wooly Worm is just an anomaly! Please tell me you’re finding other ones with at least SOME brown on them?

  6. 11-7

    We saw an all brown one last week. Southern Indiana. As nice as a mild winter would be, we need the hard freeze and low temps to kill the bugs and a massive infestation of yellow poplar scale. I’m hoping your caterpillars are more right than ours.

  7. 11-7

    We live in Ritchie County, WV. Saturday we saw a woolly on our front step. It was all black.

  8. 11-7

    Have only seen three so far – two all black, and one with just a very small touch of brown. Not looking good here either!

    Thanks for the reminder of what it means!

  9. 11-7

    I think that’s a different kind from the traditional orange and black ones. Does that one have an orange body you can see when you stretch it out?? The orange (brown) and black one’s I’ve seen have been pretty average, though I do hear that la nina is going to dump the snow and cold on us this year!

  10. 11-7

    Here around Parkersburg, WV we have been strangely polluted with these little woolly worms . I have even gotten the broom out to sweep them off of the porch and carport area because of trying to step around them. Very weird. I cannot say that they are colored more one way or the other though. Here it is into November and I’m loving the extended sunshine and warmer days. I have a feeling when winter hits we’re going to be slammed though.

  11. 11-7

    Those all black ones are probably another species and not wooley bears.Keep looking. I try to look at as many as possible for a consensus since they vary.Ours have a wide brown band but some have a wider black band in front than behind.Does that mean the first half of winter will be more like normal and the last half will be mild? Some have only a small amount of black on both ends.So there seems to be a differnce of opinion.I guess time will tell. I’ve heard their accuracy is more like 85%.

  12. 11-7

    broncobetsy, yes, I could the orange on the body when it stretched, but no orange fur, just black!

  13. 11-7

    They’re totally black and really, really big over here in Mason County… I mean REALLY BIG! :dancingmonster:

  14. 11-7

    Ours are all black and wearing little parkas, wristers, mittens and balaclavas. Is this ominous?

  15. 11-7

    My sister was in Kentucky near WV recently and she found an all black one there, too. We don’t have them around us. Actually, I’ve never seen one around here in all the 21 years I’ve been back.

  16. 11-7

    I found one last week that had the widest brown band I’d ever seen! I’m over in eastern Nebraska though. Hopefully your wooly worm is defective :)

  17. 11-7

    Whew! I think we’re going to be O.K. over here in Mason County… just found this little guy (gal?) out in my garden ( I can feel it – it’s nearly Spring already! :clover:

  18. 11-7

    IowaCowGirl, love the balaclavas! I envy you your fashionable woolly worms. We, alas, don’t have them here at all, with or without parkas, but this is Chicago and we’ve been told that we’re going to have a very snowy and cold winter. Not exactly looking forward to that.

  19. 11-7

    I haven’t seen any in the Kenna area yet, but my daughter sent me a picture of one from the Sissonville area and it was all black. Bundle up, bring in the wood and settle in for a long winter…Oh wait, I can’t do that! I work and have to get out of the “holler” every day.

  20. 11-7

    I have not seen a single wooly worm here. Not one. So what does that mean?

  21. 11-7

    I saw whole herds (flocks? fleets? platoons??) of wooly bears in September with varying widths of brown bands. They were southbound on the walking trail and pulling wheeled suitcases.

  22. 11-7

    LOL! “Southbound and pulling wheeled suitcases.” “Wearing parkas, mittens…”

    You folks are just too funny! I needed a good giggle today. Thanks! :clover:

  23. 11-7

    I’m in Greenbrier Co., WV and I saw one yesterday that was equal measurements of black and brown.

  24. 11-7

    I haven’t seen any wooly bears here, just wooly mountain people and I don’t think they would count because they are wooly year round! Love the comments about parkas, etc and migrating with their sutcaises.
    Too too funny. :lol:

  25. 11-7

    I read your blog today, and was thinking I haven’t seen a woolly worm in 25 years or longer. A few minutes later, on my way out the back door, there was a woolly on the steps! How weird is that? Mine did have a brown band in the middle, but as I haven’t seen them in years, not sure how to relate his brown band to our upcoming winter in Oregon.

  26. 11-7

    I had one with a big band on thank goodness but sorry for him I didn’t see it until it was to late and he met his maker with my foot. I felt so bad. :cry:

  27. 11-7

    In Northern Ohio we have an Annual Woollybear Parade and Festival, this year was the39th year for the festival.
    Well over 100,000 people descended upon our small town this year for the one day event.
    We even have a Woollybear 500 caterpillar race; all woollybears have to be inspected by the judges to make sure that they are real wollybears, “It has a rust-colored ban, no all black caterpillars.” I remember standing in a line that was over two blocks long with my granddaughter to have her woollybear inspected for the race.
    This year, over 2,000 people participated in the parade and it usually last for two hours or longer

  28. 11-7

    20miles north of morgantown in Waynesburg PA and I’ve seen 4 all black ones in the last three weeks. Props to Iowacowgirl for cracking me up!

  29. 11-8

    SE NC also has sightings of all black woolies!!!!!
    I moved here from CT to get away form the smow so I hope that they are wrong this year!

  30. 11-8

    hee hee…s’cuse the poor typing skills above!

  31. 11-8

    We’ve seen very few this year and what we have seen are all black! I am wondering if these are true wolly bears. I am starting to see the ladybugs too! None had suitcases so maybe things aren’t going to be too bad! ;-)

  32. 11-8

    We had a dead all black one on our front porch on Halloween. :jackolantern: I remember thinking hmmmm this can’t be a good sign! :snowman: Location here is Piedmont North Carolina.

  33. 11-8

    I love your woolie worm reports. It was right last year.
    Jeeez ours are black too..I am scared.

  34. 11-8

    I don’t know about Wooly Worms, but as an avid bird watcher for 30 years, I can tell you that the birds have been eating AND storing food like I haven’t seen them do in years. For instance: My Red Breasted Woodpeckers have spent the last 3 weeks, carrying one seed at a time, from morning to night, hiding them. Other signs of stepped-up activity (much more so than normal for this time of year) tells me that we’re finally looking at a doozy of a winter.

  35. 11-9

    Update: In today’s WV newspaper….”The 18.4 inches of snow that fell in the Charleston area last December was the third-highest accumulation ever for the area. Another 12.7 inches fell in January, but just a few inches fell in February and March.

    Highways officials have been working with National Weather Service meteorologists to plan for snow and ice removal. Forecasters are predicting a repeat of last year.

    “We’ve looked at some of the long-range forecasts for winter,” said Kyle Stollings, director of maintenance for the Division of Highways.

    “They’re telling us to look for a very similar weather pattern as what we had last year – which is pretty regular heavy, wet snow in December and January.”

  36. 11-9

    Here in Oxford, OH have seen many woolys on the go, usually across the road? But not much traffic we can dodge them. Sorry to report majority solid black. The almanac did say it was going to be exceptionally cold and windy this winter. :( Booo!

  37. 11-10


    I had two woolly bears early this spring, and they were all black too! I told DH that I was scared, just like you. I saw mine over a month ago now.

    We’re in Southern NH.


  38. 11-10

    Sorry, that shuld have been “…early this FALL” not spring. Talk about wishful thinking, jeez!


  39. 11-21

    The little fellas I’ve seen have been all black.

  40. 11-24

    OMG Suzanne!!! We’re so happy you have landed on your feet on such a great farm. We actually went to look at that farm last year when it was listed and it was fabulous but it was not quite for us. I’m now sure the sister was right…it was waiting for YOU! Congratulations on your new life.

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