Wooly Bear v/s Yellow Bear

My husband, sweet man that he is, has been on the lookout for a wooly bear caterpillar for me so I can hazard as guess as to the winter weather in our neck of the woods. Today, he called me as I was returning from taking our daughter Buttercup to preschool.

Hubby: I found a wooly bear crawling across the patio and took a photo of it for you.

Me: Cool beans. Did it have a lot of orange? (I am emotionally invested in a mild winter)

Him: It was solid orange. Maybe we shouldn’t have packed the shorts away.

Me: Solid orange? Are you sure it was a wooly bear?

Him: Of course. *indignant snort*

Here’s the picture:


I was suspicious that my Sweet Babou had photographed something other than a wooly bear, but what if there WAS such a thing as an orange wooly bear? I did some research using my Google-Fu. Lo & behold the caterpillar was not a wooly bear; it was a yellow bear caterpillar. They are very closely related, and are both the larval form of tiger moths. However, the yellow bear will grow up to be a Virginia Tiger Moth. Wooly bears become the Isabella Tiger Moth.

The coolest thing about tiger moth caterpillars is that they literally have anti-freeze in their cells so they can survive the winter. How awesome is that?

Now, all I need is to find a proper wooly bear …

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