The Annual Woolly Worm Report


Look what I have:

According to old-fashioned weather lore, 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. Vintage theorists are backed up by studies (really) that put woolly worm accuracy at 57 percent.

Batten down the hatches.

It’s all black!!!!!


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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on October 9, 2010  

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  1. 10-9

    That’s what the meteorologists are predicting for the midwest. I wonder if they use the wooly bear method!

  2. 10-9

    Phooey. Maybe I’ll just move south for the winter.

  3. 10-9

    I dont even want to think about winter yet,do you? May the willy worm will stil have time to grow a band.

  4. 10-9

    Bring it on worm!!I am ready, my panty is full, we have plenty of gas for the generator, I have waxed paper—-and–oh yes–foil!!

  5. 10-9

    I have been watching my squirrels and they have been extra busy so I do believe the worm is a correct predictor. Stocking up has already been started here. I wonder how many folks remember to stock up on herbs and spices also. I also make sure I have lots of pasta and asst. Sauces , BTW I am going to the store tomorrow to get ingredients for the banana split in a jar. Thank you for that recipe.

  6. 10-9

    Make sure you stock up on aluminum foil and powdered sugar!

    p.s. I love winter.

  7. 10-9

    I have seen an all black one too. I also know that the oak tree in our yard has produced tons more acorns than ever before…..we’ve lived here 17 years.

  8. 10-9

    Oh my!!

  9. 10-9

    p.p.s. I love woolyworms. We called them “woolybears” when I was a kid, and when I see them, I know that fall is well and truly here. I used to live in California’s Central Valley and there were no woolybears or lightening bugs, and oh, how I missed them.

  10. 10-9

    I think you need a second opinion from Georgia.

  11. 10-9

    :bugeyed: @jojo…”Bring it on worm!!I am ready, my panty is full,” lol. I love typos!

    I have seen a few wooly worms all brown here in Eastern Kentucky….and a few all black ones too!

  12. 10-9

    I only see ONE wooly worm, i think if you check 3 of them? kind of like getting a second opinion? Maybe he’s a “black sheep” in their family – and you got the odd man out? because i dont like the forecast!! I want :sun:

  13. 10-9

    That’s hilarious! And I agree w/ the prior poster – get at least an “opinion” from 3 or 5 or more!!! :)

  14. 10-9

    Amber–thank you, I stand corrected! BUT–if the winter is as bad as wooly says –the former may be true as well! :lol:

  15. 10-9

    The wooly worms at my house are all black. I see them in my driveway and I’ve been careful not to run over them. Now that I know what “all black” means I just may introduce them to my car tires. (not really :)

  16. 10-9

    Here in my part of WI they say a mild winter-lots of brown on them. The first half of winter will be cold, like last year, but then it will be mild and an early spring.Those all black ones may not be wooly bears- they may be a different species.

  17. 10-9

    Becky–now that you mention it–we usally have tons of walnuts lying on the ground, I usally have to rake them back before we take the tractor down near the woods to mow, but this year the squirrels gave been carring them away nearly as quickly as they fall, I have seen very few on the ground, I have a friend that is 98 years old, and she has always said to watch the animals and they will tell you what the weather will bring.

  18. 10-9

    That is in line with the weather forecast telling us, it will be the worst La Nina year since 1955

  19. 10-9

    We have schizo woolies around here…

  20. 10-9

    it is hitting the 30s in Massachusetts tonight!

  21. 10-9

    Do you suppose that’s why my cat tried to bring a garter snake inside today? She’s never brought a “gift” home before, but she really wanted this in the apt. Maybe she thought she’d better stock up on food in case winter is so bad I can’t get out to buy cat food?!!!

  22. 10-9

    FabHub said he saw a wooly with very little brown yesterday. That along with how much canning and stocking up on things I have been doing, which is completely abnormal and due to all of you enablers out there, means this could be messy. :?

  23. 10-9

    I’ve never seen a wooly whatever worm. What does it turn into? anything? I think it’s kind of cute :smilerabbit:

    However, I do hope it’s predictions are false because I froze my tush off last winter!

  24. 10-9

    I think the folklore’s off. A woolybear’s orange part grows towards it’s ends, so the older the caterpillar, the wider the orange band. Maybe you just have a young one.

  25. 10-9

    We had a fully black one today too, here in Asheville, NC.

  26. 10-9

    I just found a few all black ones too!

  27. 10-9

    Great! Now I can finally get all those indoor projects finished. Just need to hurry up and get things set outdoors for the critters. WHOO HOO!!!! I can see my floors getting finished, the walls finally painted, the cabinet doors finished and finally put in place!

    Oh wait…. CRUD, what a bummer, super cold you say? What will we do to keep ourselves busy? LOL!

  28. 10-9

    Following your information I went to ehow and found these tidbits on weather information, pretty interesting and fun stuff.

    Also on another note, member JOJO I belive meant to say her pantry is full not her “panty”. I may be wrong though.
    When stocking up do not ignore the medicine chest, I always stock up on my medicinal teas incase I cannot get to the Dr for a spell.

    Watch the butterflies and listen to the katydid:

    Butterflies migrate early. If they do, winter will come in early.

    When butterflies bunch up together in the sky, winter is coming soon.

    Three months after the first katydid begins singing, the first killing frost will come.

    It will be a bad winter if….

    There are crickets in your chimney.

    The ants build their hills higher than normal.

    Hornets and yellow jackets build their nests lower to the ground than normal.

    Miller moths keep hitting the screen door to get in.

    There are lots of spiders in the fall.
    You see worms in your house or outbuildings in October.

    Keep an eye on the woolly-worm:

    And now, the trusty woolly-worm (woolly-bear caterpillar), who is a great predictor of weather. Here’s how to watch the signs of the wooly-worm and what they mean….

    If there are more than usual crawling around, and they have heavy coats, a bad winter is coming.

    If the black band on his back in wide, the winter will be bad. The more black a worm is, the worse the bad winter will be.

    If the worm if mostly brown with very little black, the winter will be gentle.

    If his front has a lot of black, the bad weather is coming. If his rear end is black, the worst is over.

    If he’s brown on both ends and orange in the middle, the winter will be gentle.

    If you see a woolly-worm before the first frost, the winter will be bad.

    Read more: How to Predict Winter By Watching Insects |

  29. 10-9

    Wow! An all black one! Well, according to all the woollies in my area (Western NC) we will have about 2 weeks of hard winter, followed by 7 weeks of mild and another 4 weeks of cold. Really! All of them have the same pattern!! I’ve seen about 10 that look just like this.

  30. 10-9

    Eve…thanks for that, it was really interesting.
    I’m in California, I don’t get much signage from the critters around here…most of mine are sleeping on the couch. (LOL)
    We have had some pretty strange weather trends here this year. I wouldn’t doubt that our winters will all be YUCK!

  31. 10-9

    Our woolly worm report last week wasn’t so bleak:

  32. 10-10

    We used to get tons of Woolly Bears (that’s what we call them here). I never could figure out why they insisted on crossing the road when the mortality rate was so great. I, on the other hand, always watch out for them and avoid them if I can. So what if I look like I’m doing the car slalom? That’s if no one is behind me, that is.

    Will let you know what our first one says….

    JoJo, I’m really glad your ummm… pant(R)y is full… I think. I’m quite sure that’s what you meant!

  33. 10-10

    Oh my, that is a dire wooly worm prediction! I prefer the Hornet’s nest method…the higher up in the tree it is, the more snow we’ll get.

    My daughter found a wooly worm that was black at the head and a long band of brown the rest of the way–no black rear end. Never saw one like that before… Hopefully hers is right, because that would mean no more winter EVER! LOL :sun:

  34. 10-10

    We live in Northern VA [for over 40 years] and last winter was the snowiest we have had in all that time. Wowser it was bad, but we weren’t snowed in like you were [we actually LIVE in civilization heehee] I can’t imagine getting anymore snow than that. I enjoyed it tho’ – nothing better than getting extra time off with the kidlets and Pooldad. :D

    You have stocked up tinfoil, right?

  35. 10-10


    Thank you to all that picked up on my type-o–I just want to assure that it is my PANTRY that is full, even though I am into my golden years, I have not reached that point as yet.
    I really do need to read and reread my replys before I post them. My eyes are going quickly, but everthing else seems to be in check! :happyflower:

  36. 10-10

    Eve and all, I saw a wooly bear the other day that was all yellow. Way up here near Buffalo, NY. Now, that’s not right. But I did see it before the first frost, so what does that mean?

  37. 10-10

    The spider prediction is true for us, I have killed sooo many in the house this Fall!!

  38. 10-10

    NOOOOOO!!!!! That cannot be right! Are you sure that’s a wooly worm? Positively sure?? I don’t want another cold winter. I was noticing how there are so many acorns all over still. So I was thinking that we would have a mild winter here because the squirrels haven’t even started picking them up yet. I guess maybe they are being like the sluggard ant? Hmm. Well, I think it’s time I make that move over the water to Hawaii. Anyone else?

  39. 10-10

    Doesn’t look good! The Wooly Bears in our neighborhood have been all black except for one free spirit that was orange on both ends but a sizeable black stripe in the middle. Also, these have been sighted before the first frost as mentioned in Eve Davis’ post. Pointing toward a bad winter!

  40. 10-10

    I like the hornet one . Last year ,they built a nest in the siding above my window and look what we had !! Now I have a yellow jacket nest on my back porch,about 5 or 6 feet off the ground. do ya think??? Better get ready!

  41. 10-10

    Another old folk lore ….A older woman at church told me this ,which ,so far I have found to be true,when it thunders in Febuary, on this date in May,you will have a frost.Unless it rains on the date in May.

  42. 10-10

    Wow! We have not had frost yet and Suzanne has seen a wooly worm! Also, this is the ABSOLUTE WORST year for spiders! Batten down the hatches, stock up the panties (everyone in your family should own 30 pair of underwear in case the power goes off and you can’t do the laundry – that is a “Cousin Sheryl Rule to Live By”), chop the firewood, and if you are “planning” your family – don’t forget plenty of birth control supplies (OR NOT :devil2: )!

    Eeek! Here it comes! :hissyfit:

  43. 10-10

    Why are we stocking up on tinfoil? I can think of a thousand uses for it….am I missing something here?

  44. 10-10

    OMG I have only seen two AND THEY WERE BOTH ALL BLACK!!!! and we haven’t had a frost yet although it’s been close.

  45. 10-10

    Hey Suzanne!

    Woolly worms are dangerous too! This last month. While at the bus stop picking up my Little Man I was told by one of my neighbor’s that the man who cuts our hay field had been bit by a woolly worm on his neck. He went on to say that Doc actually almost died from it. The doctors said that a few more hours and he would have died! Doc was in the hospital a few days and is fine now.

    lol at Cousin Sheryl’s comment!

    Angela :wave:

  46. 10-10

    Well I haven’t seen a wooly worm here yet but my 3 dogs (a purebred husky and 2 chow mixes) have been mostly staying in the basement instead of being outside and have had a good layer of fat on them since the early part of September. Now their 20 x 50 foot kennel is attached to the basement so they can come and go as they please. The trees here are turning fast and dropping their leaves. The weather folk are predicting not so bad of a winter but I do have a feeling they are wrong and have been stocking up. Also for those that are stocking up don’t for get about toilet paper and any other of those supplies us ladies need at times. Last winter following a snow storm the neighbors kids came over and asked if we had any TP to spare lol. Usually in Oct I do buy 6 months worth of items when I can.

  47. 10-11

    I hope this is one wives tale that is wrong.

    South Mississippi where we live had 3 snows last year. 1 snow is very uncommon in MS. But 3. Bad.

  48. 10-11

    :purpleflower: :purpleflower:
    We had a wooly on the back porch today, it was blonde! What do you think? A leftover wooly from Hollywood? Maybe be Clairol? Most of the ones we have seen this year, and we have seen more than usal, have been black! Scary!

  49. 10-12

    Black woolly-bears are simply younger than the striped ones. The older the caterpillar the wider the orange band. They morph into the rather dull looking Isabella moth in the spring. My chickens pick them up and spit them out, they never eat them. I wonder if all those bristly hairs feel funny on their tongues. I was always told that the way to predict winter with them is to pay attention to which direction they are going when they cross a road. If they are moving south or west it will be a bad winter, north or east means a mild winter.

  50. 10-14

    NOOOOOOOOOOO! This chickens here will NOT be happy with this news and the ducks will be a-knockin on the front door. Please do NOT tell them!

  51. 10-15

    Just yesterday hubby and I were driving to town, and I was driving. I scared the heck out of him when I suddenly swerved! He said, “What the heck did you do THAT for?” I told him I’d swerved to avoid a woolly bear. He couldn’t believe it. Thought I was crazy and wondered how I’d even seen it! I tried to explain how I watch for them, but sadly, he still thinks I’m nuts.

    The woolly bear was half orange, so maybe our winter will be just the usual amount of rain with average temps.

  52. 10-19

    I just watched a news clip from Virginia about them and their worms have a big brown band on them. The Entomologist said it had something to do with summer food supply but I don’t really believe him. We know what those woolly worms mean.

  53. 10-20

    I was at Morton Arboretum just outside Chicago this weekend and saw a wolly worm with a big fat brown stripe-a mild winter would be ok with me!

  54. 10-23

    I saw an all black one also. But all the rest I have seen the brown band is almost as wide as the worm is long with only a small touch of black on each end! Maybe we need to get a large sample of them to judge the results. Lol

  55. 10-23

    Now that I got to read all the posts my black worm was going East, and I have a yellow jacket nest right ON the ground! So I hope it will be a better winter here in South-Central PA than the several FEET of snow we had last year! ;-)

  56. 10-29

    I have seen 4, three were gold & one black. Apparently there is a lack of consensus, or maybe they have not changed yet. I hope the gold ones are right—I do not like super cold weather—it is too expensive to heat the house.

  57. 11-7

    I saw a black and brown wooly worm today and the brown band was very wide. There seems to be some inconsistancy in people’s observations. Hopefully he is correct & we in Nebraska will have a mild winter.

  58. 1-5

    My boyfriend calls me wollyworm, I am not hairy or anything. he just calls me wollyworm and I find it cute :heart:

  59. 10-3

    :shimmy: IN Michigan,,we can expect Winter,,,followed by what some people call Spring, and we call ,,,MORE Winter :sun: and the wollys verify , , , , :yes:

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