disrupting a woolly bear caterpillar’s journey


When we came home from food shopping this morning there was a woolly bear on our sidewalk! I hurried inside to get my camera. When I returned I tried to give it a ride to a safer location and it responded by curling up into a little ball. Putting it on this leaf I went back inside to put away the groceries.

When I came back out it was on the move again, away from the leaf.

But then it circled back to reconsider its options, and I got a picture of those little eyes surveying the possibilities.

And finally it decided to return to the leaf. With a little luck it might find a good spot to overwinter here.

On the news I learned that North Carolina has had a Woolly Worm Festival in the town of Banner Elk over the third weekend of October ever since 1978. That’s also how I learned that they call them woolly worms down here. Growing up in New England, they were always woolly bears to me!

30 thoughts on “disrupting a woolly bear caterpillar’s journey”

  1. I so enjoyed your delightful excitement in the woolly bear, Barbara. Beautiful photos, and how fun to capture the eyes! Where I was a girl (Illinois) we called them fuzzie-wuzzies and oh my goodness I still call them that! Lovely post.

    1. Thank you, Jet! I was pretty excited to see the eyes, too. I was down on the ground and it lifted up its front end onto the pine needle, just the right angle to see the little face. I love fuzzie-wuzzies, what a great name for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Well, that’s good news! We’ve been told NC winters are mild and I’m looking forward to that. When we inquired about using our fireplace our neighbor advises that in some winters it’s too warm on Christmas to have a fire. Hmmmm….

  2. Awww! I don’t think I’ve seen a wooly bear since Connecticut. I didn’t know they were here in North Carolina, or what their local name is. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Susan! It was such a delightful surprise to see one down here. I suspect they are more abundant in the NC mountains, where that woolly worm festival is held.

    1. I will definitely be looking for Isabella tiger moths this spring! ๐Ÿ™‚ You’d never know it was the same creature.

  3. We call them woolly bears in the mid-Atlantic! And come to think of it, I haven’t seen one yet. We have to dodge them with our cars along farms’ backroads, I’ve seen them cover a road crawling. I guess they wanted to get to the other side! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1. Among my readers woolly bear seems to be winning out over woolly worm, 6-2. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wow! I’ve never seen more than one woolly bear at a time, Donna! That must be amazing to see so many that they cover a road. It does make one wonder just where they might be headed.

    1. If I remember correctly, you’re in Ohio like Frank… They really don’t look like bears or worms to me, cute little woolly-somethings!

  4. What a cute and fuzzy fellow you found there Barbara. I always knew them as Woolly Bears too, even in Canada. According to the legend of the Woolly Bear, if the brown segment is wider than the darker segments at either end, we’ll have a milder Winter. This Woolly Bear is sporting more brown and with an El Niรฑo Winter on the horizon, I hope we will be taking many walks through those usually wintry months.

    1. I’m okay with a mild winter — it’s kind of what we were expecting for North Carolina anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ve never had a fireplace before so we asked our neighbor about having a fire for the holidays. She said sometimes it’s too warm to have a fire and other years it’s nice and chilly so they get excited about having one then. I’m thinking of having a Yule log on the winter solstice, we’ll see.

      1. That will be nice to have a Yule log for the Winter solstice – I hope you do that and will write about it Barbara. The fireplace at my house is electric and not plugged in. When we had the house painted and wallpapered, a neighbor came over every few night to help us move heavier furniture back in place. He put the cord to the fireplace tucked into the recesses of it and we didn’t have the heart to ask him to move it again. It is not really cozy in the living room as it’s right next to the garage – we used to sit in the spare room we called the den or TV room. Much cozier in there and could curl up with an afghan to read, watch TV, have a snooze.

        1. I think an electric fireplace would be more my speed. I’m kind of leery of having an actual fire inside the house and worry about smoke damage and chimney fires and all that stuff. On Christmas Day in 2011 3 little girls died in a Connecticut house fire caused by the improper disposal of the ashes from their fireplace. I’ve never been able to get that tragedy out of my mind every time someone suggests we use our fireplace. I’d much rather use candles for ambience and like you, curl up with a blanket in a comfortable chair.

          1. Yes, I’d worry about a real fire too – what a terrible tragedy that was. I have heard where birds have gotten into the chimney and caused C02 issues as a result of getting trapped in there. It seems like there is always something to worry about. Electric is safer definitely.

          2. It will be interesting to see how many chimneys in this complex have smoke coming out of them this Christmas eve and day. And it will be interesting to see how warm it will turn out to be on that day! The temperatures have been all over the spectrum this fall.

          3. Yes, it will be interesting to see that … hopefully the stockings are hung that those chimneys with care …
            We had an ugly day today, with rain for most of the day and a long-term forecast for snow as early as the first weekend in December. I hope they’re wrong.

          4. Interestingly, last night the local weather guy had a segment on the effects of El Niรฑo and La Niรฑa in our area. After sharing all kinds of statistics and records the conclusion he reached is that those weather patterns make no difference to our weather here. Steady as we go, I guess!

          5. We have a meteorologist I follow here on Twitter. Paul Gross just retired this year, but is very active in climate change forums around the world and testifies as an expert witness for accident reconstruction cases as to the weather, etc. I like following him, but boy does he disparage any info that come from “The Farmer’s Almanac” whether it is the woolly bear caterpillar theory or the Almanac’s advance predictions and computations on snowfall and wintry conditions.

  5. I know them as Woolly Bears. I see Frank said they are Woolly Worms in Ohio, but in NE Ohio they are Woolly Bears. There is even a Woollybear Festival in Vermillion, OH (which they’ve been hosting since 1973). The one and only woolly bear I saw here this year was predicting a harsh winter (almost no brown at all). I never keep track but I’m guessing they’re right about 50% of the time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your woolly bear is so cute. I don’t think I’ve ever had a good look at their faces before.

    1. Interesting, I wonder if the woolly bear/worm dividing line runs across Ohio. It seems like the folks farther north use bear and down south here it’s worm. I see Vermillion is in the northern part of Ohio, too. I hope your woolly bear didn’t get it right this year! ๐Ÿ˜‰ This was the first time I got a good look at a woolly bear face and was dazzled to see the two eyes. I wonder what it sees? They must usually be pointed toward the ground.

  6. How fun to notice this tiny critter and so kind of you to move it to a safe spot. I donโ€™t know if they call these woolly worms or woolly bears here in south Texas, but I like the name fuzzie-wuzzies as Jet calls them.

    1. Its coloring really stood out in sharp contrast to the cement sidewalk. It was such a delightful surprise to see a little woolly bear down south here, I felt like a kid again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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