Have you seen those large spiny and hairy caterpillars abundantly crawling on sidewalks, pathways, bicycle paths and roadways during summer? These are Wooly bear caterpillars, simply called the Wooly Bears. They belong to a large group of moths called tiger moths and usually begin existence during spring as a plant-eating caterpillar.
In places with temperate climates, Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching. However, in the Arctic it is so much different. The summer time is shorter with only very limited time for growing and nurturing vegetation, hence making feeding time so short, allowing the Wooly Bear caterpillar to feed and look for food for several winters. The process becomes repeated from freezing to thawing, then feeding, then freezing again before finally coming to become a pupa. Some Wooly Bear Caterpillars have been known to go through 14 summers before finally pupating.
The banded wooly bear caterpillar has two black bands, one at each end and has an interesting orange band somewhere in the middle. Some people say that the presence of the wide orange or brown band in the middle determines what kind of winter is coming. In fact, some would even believe and interpret it identifying the Wooly Bear Caterpillar as the forerunner of the ruthlessness or perhaps unkindness of winter.
True or not, the presence of Wooly Bear welcomes the coming of winter.
Wooly Bear Caterpillar