Wooly Worms

It's going to be a bad, snowy winter, y'all. 

This fact was confirmed for me yesterday when I ran across this guy.

Like most country girls, I grew up with a whole lot of folk wisdom. Because so many people in my town were based in a "grow it and eat it" farming mentality, a huge focus was put on predicting the weather. Dogwood and redbudwinters. Indian summers. And the all-knowing wooly worm.

Now, in case you didn't know, the wooly worm is the larval stage of the Isabella tigermoth. It can be brown or black, or a mixture of the two. Conventional wisdom has always held that the more black the wooly worms show, the worse the winter will be. The placement of the colors can also indicate weather patterns -- a brown band in the middle of a black wooly worm means that winter will start and end harshly with a warm snap in the middle. It's an old-timey tradition across the mountains -- there's even a Wooly Worm Festival in Lee County!

My high school biology teacher had more than a bit of country naturalist in him; he taught us that a lot of natural phenomena that reach "folk wisdom" status are often based in scientific fact. I've read that, while there isn't a lot of scientific data to support the wooly worm's predictive patterns, their color patterns are affected by moisture and temperature. I also know that the wooly worm is usually right.

Did y'all grow up reading the wooly worm?