A fuzzy caterpillar found all over Central New York can predict what kind of winter to expect. Want to know how?

Step aside meteorologists. No thanks, Farmer's Almanac. If you want to know what kind of winter to expect in Central New York, look down...at a caterpillar.

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar, also known as a woolly worm, are found all over Central New York, and southern Canada. They've also got a reputation for being able to forecast winter weather.

Here's how it goes. The worm is rusty brown in the middle and black on the ends. The bigger the rusty brown middle, the milder the winter. If there is more black - get your snowblower ready - it's going to be a harsh winter.

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The Farmer's Almanac says there's even a little 'science' behind this, in the form of an experiment run by museum insect curator, Dr. C. H. Curran, who took samples of the caterpillars for years. "Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran’s average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a good third of the woolly bear’s body. The corresponding winters were milder than average, and Dr. Curran concluded that the folklore has some merit and might be true."

But that's not the only way this little critter supposedly predicts the winter. According to weather.gov, "It is said that woolly bear's crawling in a southerly direction are trying to escape the cold winter conditions of the north.  On the other hand, woolly bear's crawling on a northward path would indicate a mild winter." Or maybe he's just lost - we hear the woolly bear hates to ask for directions.

So, do your own investigating? What do the woolly caterpillars in your yard have to say about this winter?


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