There are many more wooly worms this year. Is there a reason for this, perhaps weather-related?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello Donnie: There are several species of what we commonly call the wooly worm. Pyrrharctia Isabella is the one we typically see in Kentucky. There are actually two generations of these caterpillars each year. The first generation hatches in the late spring or early summer, and the second hatches later in August. The second generation is the one we typically see more of because they are out and about trying to find warmth. It is this time of the year that these caterpillars are searching for somewhere protected from the elements to survive the winter months. They do not spend the winter months as pupa or chrysalis as other moths/butterflies do, so it is important for them to find a winter hideout as soon as possible. There are many folklores out there and the wooly worms are the most common one this time of the year. Each fall the wooly worms appear, and as the legend goes the more black on the banded wooly worm the longer and more extreme the winter will be. The thickness of their hair and the color of their 13 segments are also analyzed. Wooly worms have predicted the weather in many small-town festivals, but there is no scientific proof that they can forecast winter weather. It is, however, a nice excuse to have a festival!