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Woolly caterpillars: What do they mean?

woolly caterpillar
This woolly caterpillar was booking it across the road in my Dover Township neighborhood. My toddler didn’t want to get too close to it, but he was more than happy to watch me pet it.

While on a walk with my toddler this week, we saw six woolly caterpillars, crossing the road, crawling up curbs and scaling the side of my house.

One was completely brown, the others were mostly brown with a bit of black at the front and back.

I remember there’s an old adage about what the colors on a woolly caterpillar meant for the winter ahead. And, sure, I could google it, but I thought it would be more fun to ask the readers of the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

Do you know what the colors mean?


  • Barb Ditty Erdman Dark black indicates possible heavy snow storms while light brown indicates milder time in winter months. So, this particular woolly caterpillar is saying cold and snow to begin winter with a mild period after the onslaught, then cold and snowy end to winter.
  • Lindsay Reinoehl Bartleson I saw an all black one last year and we only got one storm, so yeah, there is the folk tale that goes with it, but it’s just an old wives tale.
  • Debra Thieret Folklore says that When you see a caterpillar note: If there is a narrow orange band in the middle of the Woolly Bear caterpillar, it warns of heavy snow. If they are fat and fuzzy expect bitter cold.
  • Jen Coombs ONeill I’ve heard that they actually don’t predict winter, but actually tell us what the weather in the area was like last winter. This one has more brown, hence he spent more time in the sun and it was milder. It’s all just for fun anyway!