I loved these little guys when I was a kid in New Jersey. Being an outdoorsy/free-range kid, I was often in the woods, looking under fallen logs and lifting big rocks to see what magic might be found underneath. I collected feathers, stones, shells, nests, and any other artifact I discovered on my treks. I read about birds, was thrilled when I came across salamanders, turtles, katydids and other wonders and how I loved those summer nights catching and releasing fireflies. But I really, really loved coming across Wooly Bears! Imagine my delight when, after moving to the North Carolina mountains, I discovered that one of the country's largest Wooly Bear festivals was just a couple miles down the road! To this day, when I see one of these critters I feel a sudden child-like joy.
For generations, folks have looked to the Wooly Bear as a winter weather predictor, looking for the varying sizes of the brown inner belt of the little guy. In the mountains, they even looked at the number of furry segments to tell them how many snowfalls there would be and which would have the heavier precipitation.
I found this little Wooly Bear on my walk last week. Looks like we can expect a mild winter here in the piedmont this year!