As we get closer to the first snowfall of Winter 2021 here in Western New York, there are some signs that this could be a pretty nasty Winter when it comes to cold and snow.

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I was at my brother's home in Canandaigua over the weekend when I saw a Woolly Bear Caterpillar in his driveway. If you didn't know, these caterpillars can be used to help predict the kind of winter conditions we can expect here in Western New York.

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar is known to be able to predict winter conditions based on the color of their bodies. If the rust color is more predominant that means winter will be mild. If there is more black that means that winter could be harsher.

Now the one that I found had some black on both ends of its body which means we could be looking at a harsh start and end to the winter season while having some mild conditions in the middle.

Photo Credit: Dave Fields/TSM2021
Photo Credit: Dave Fields/TSM2021

So how does the coloring help predict the winter weather? The Woolly Bear Caterpillar has 13 different segments on its body. Each segment is either rusty brown or black. Most of the time the Woolly Bear Caterpillar has black on both ends with rust-colored segments in the middle. Just like the one that I snapped a photo of (See Above).

To predict the weather you have to read the coloring of each body segment. Since the caterpillar wouldn't need to absorb a lot of heat during mild winters, the body color would be more rust color. For harsher, colder winter the caterpillar would need to absorb more heat from the sun which means their body would have more black on their body.

If the Woolly Bear Caterpillar has more black on the ends of its body, that means the start and end of winter will be harsher than in the middle.

So based on the one I saw over the weekend, Winter in Western New York will be at its worst in the beginning and at the end.

How accurate are Woolly Bear Caterpillars at predicting the weather? Only time will tell.


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