RAYMOND —So let's take a break from all this campaign noise and think of something else really important.

Since the 1940's I have always been a fan of the "Woolly Bears", the larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth, "Pyrrharctia Isabella".

Folklore has it that they can predict the up coming winter's weather. Also known as "Woolly Worms" or banded woolly bears, these caterpillars have a black band at each end of their body, and a reddish/brown band in the middle. You see them walking around your yard, under leaf piles, and other protected areas.

Back in the 1950's a large survey was done by Dr. C. H. Curran, former Curator of Insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. His survey found an eighty-percent accuracy rate for the woolly worm's predictions. Entomologists today though, agree that they are not accurate.

My question is, can these Woolly Bears really predict the winter weather? I believe they are just like humans, depends on the larval stage when you see them, their food availability, their age, and of course the early fall weather during their development.

So far this fall I have seen ten: five with very narrow brown bands, harsh weather; three with about one-third width for each, center and two ends, mild weather, one with a very wide brown band, only some black on both ends, a very mild weather; and then today, I found one that the brown band is less than one-quarter of the whole length of the caterpillar, the rest all black, but the real catcher with this one is, there is a "Mohawk hair strip" that runs from the one black band across the whole top of the brown band to the other black band. First one like this I ever seen in my 76 years.

So, my real question is which one, or ones, of these really know what the weather will be? If the guy with the "Mohawk" is right, we are in really big trouble.

Then you have two other small folklores to look at. This fall the pine trees are dropping an over abundance of needles, and the oak trees are dropping a very large crop of acorns. Some say, these are both indicators that we will have a harsh winter. We'll see. Get your shovels out and tune up your snowblowers… just in case.

(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at l.mikekappler@comcast.net)

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