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We see a lot of the Woolly Bear Caterpillars up here in Wisconsin and supposedly the harshness of the coming winter can be forecast by the width of their banded coloring. The Woolly Bear Caterpillar is a fuzzy black caterpillar with a tan/orange band down the middle.  Folklore has it that the larger the stripe in the middle the milder the winter will be.wooly_bear_pictureSo what happens when you have an all black or an all tan one?? Their weather predicting abilities are of course speculative at best, but they’re cute little guys, aren’t they? After one winter (or possibly more) they pupate into a Isabella Tiger Moth.

We see quite a lot of these guys, but this week when feeding the goats I saw one I had never seen before!

Since I had never seen one of these before and ran up to the house to grab my camera. Doing a photo shoot of a moving, fuzzy, wormy caterpillar was tricky, but I snapped a few good ones.  After going in for the night I instantly started researching this type of caterpillar and found out it is a Hickory Tussock Caterpillar.

These caterpillars are adorable but must be left alone. They are known to “sting” with their longer hairs. These longer hairs are connected to poison glands that creates an itchy, allergic reaction. Most of us would feel like we grabbed some nettles but some will have a very severe reaction and become nauseous. On top of their “poison” hair, they also have a set of chompers on them and are known to bite. So, if you see one of these little ones wiggling around, admire it from afar. 🙂