*The genus name Pyrrharctia derives from “pyrrh” –fire (represented by the fiery orange band around the midsection) and “arctia”--ice (referencing the caterpillar’s ability to survive sub-freezing temps by manufacturing its own antifreeze compounds).
*It may look cuddly, but those fuzzy hairs (setae) are actually pretty spiky (though harmless to all but the most sensitive of skin).
*These caterpillars feed on common lawn ‘weeds’ such as dandelions, clover, plantain and violets. No diversity in your turf? No woolly bears.
* Why did the woolly bear cross the road? To find a winter blanket! They pass the winter under the shelter of a rock, bark, or leaf litter–another good reason to ‘leave the leaves’ in your landscape.
*In spring, the larvae feed briefly before spinning a silky cocoon and transforming into a beautiful Isabella tiger moth.
So if you’d like to be a friend of the woolly bear, provide plenty of their preferred food and shelter in your landscape–and leave the forecasting to the climatologists!
Photo: Wayne Longbottom