Hey Buggy Joe!! What is it?? - Woolly Bear Caterpillar


Bristly "woolly bear" caterpillars commence their annual crawl-abouts in search of sheltered winter quarters in the fall; it's usually sometime in September in Ohio. They may be found on sidewalks, walking trails, roadways, or on the walls of homes and buildings. However, insects are sometimes made most noticeable by their absence.

 

I've seen very few woolly bears sauntering around southwest Ohio thus far this fall; until yesterday. I spotted a noticeable number crossing a road or becoming laminated onto tires while I was driving on a roadway near my home. Of course, mine is a less-than-scientific observation; it's difficult making an accurate caterpillar count while driving at highway speeds.

 

I'm not sure why I've seen far fewer woolly bears thus far this season compared to previous years in southwest Ohio. Perhaps populations are simply low this year. It is common for native insects to demonstrate wide swings in numbers from year-to-year. It may also be associated with our unusual late-summer weather with the extended number of cool days stretching out caterpillar development. Maybe their crawl-abouts have been delayed. Or, it could be a combination of all of the above.

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