Out of all the crazy and goofy ways to predict the weather using the color pattern of the wooly caterpillar may be the funniest one I’ve ever heard. The Wooly Bear Caterpillar is one of the most recognizable caterpillars we regularly see in Michigan, with its distinct brownish and black fuzzy coat. But this little fuzzball may be able to tell us about the winter we're about to have in Michigan.

This is an old Farmers' Almanac urban legend, that actually turned into scientific research. As the Farmers Almanac put it, based on the pattern or color of the wooly caterpillar. You could predict how the upcoming winter would be, as they explained:
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The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.

Who Did This Research To Back It Up?

A Canadian doctor C.H. Curran began his investigation in 1948. I threw the help of a friend who worked at the New York Herald Tribune. He collected a bunch of these caterpillars and determined the average number of reddish-brown segments on them to help forecast the coming winter as the almanac elaborates:

Dr. Curran’s experiment, which he continued over the next eight years, attempted to prove scientifically a weather rule of thumb. 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.

So the next time you see one of these little fuzzy guys crawling around, take a look at their coat and it may give you a glimpse into Michigan's upcoming winter.

Woolly Mammoth Skeleton Found in Chelsea, 2015

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