Photo of the Week – October 10, 2013

At the Platte Prairies, and – I assume – throughout most of the central United States, this is the time of year we see woolly bear caterpillars crawling all over.  They are one of the most widely-recognized caterpillars around, though most people don’t give a second glance to the tiger moth they become as adults.

A tiger moth larva (woolly bear caterpillar) photographed on October 4, 2013.  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.
A tiger moth larva (woolly bear caterpillar) photographed on October 4, 2013. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

This time of year, woolly bears are often seen crossing roads or sidewalks, trying to find a place to spend the winter.  Like many other insects, they will freeze solid over the winter, only to thaw out and resume their lives in the spring.

8 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – October 10, 2013

  1. Chris Pague October 10, 2013 / 5:26 pm

    From the size of that saddle/stripe, it looks like you are going to have a very cold/long winter! Chris

    • James C. Trager October 11, 2013 / 2:43 pm

      Or is it the other way around?

    • Chris Helzer October 11, 2013 / 4:14 pm

      Thanks, Brad. Nice to see some prairie gardening in other places!

  2. Ed May October 11, 2013 / 3:08 pm

    Chris, my dad once said there was an old adage that the wider the stripe on the wooly bear caterpillar the more severe will be the upcoming winter. Have you ever heard that one?

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Chris Helzer October 11, 2013 / 4:17 pm

      Ed, yes, that’s a common legend. No data to support it as far as I know… I’m pretty sure caterpillars don’t have any more insight into predicting the weather than we do!

  3. Judith Deaton October 14, 2013 / 3:17 pm

    Our wooly bears are usually all black with a slight hint of rusty color from time to time. Great childhood memories of discussions on whether or not to pick them up. I have only recently heard of the winter adage recently as ours don’t have rusty bands!

  4. Jacob October 14, 2013 / 7:48 pm

    I didn’t know that bugs could survive being frozen.

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