Posts Tagged ‘Wooly Bear caterpillar’

We’re starting to get down to the last insects of the season, and fuzzy brown caterpillars are among the few insects that I still see. Some of these are Banded Wooly Bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella) that supposedly help tell how severe the winter will be, though I confess that I can never remember how you are supposed to judge, i.e. does a wide middle section mean a short winter or a long one?

When I first took this shot, I thought the subject was a wooly bear caterpillar, but the more I look at it the less certain I feel. There seems to be a black tip on only one end of the caterpillar rather than at both ends. Despite the uncertainty about identification, I really like the shot and the way that I was able to isolate the caterpillar from the background.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Looking down in the water, I was a little surprised to see a Banded Wooly Bear caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) swimming, albeit not too quickly. He would slowly undulate his hairy body for a stroke and pause, and then repeat the process. It was fascinating to see the little air bubbles surrounding his mouth and the gentle ripples produced by his movement.

This caterpillar will almost certainly overwinter in his current state and pupate in the spring into an Isabella Tiger Moth. Bugguide notes that there are normally two broods, on that pupates in the summer and the other in the following spring. I have looked at some photos of the moth and can’t help but note that the caterpillar stage is a lot more attractive and interesting.

Wooly Bear caterpillar swimming (click for higher resolution)

Wooly Bear caterpillar pauses for a breath (click for higher resolution)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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