Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Wooly Bear Caterpillar

Right before he pooped on me.

Isabella Tiger Moth

Paul and I were putting our vegetable garden to bed for the winter this past weekend, when we came across this diminutive little visitor.  He is a Wooly Bear Caterpillar and in the spring he will transform into the Isabella Tiger Moth.  According to Iowa State University, the Isabella Tiger Moth is one of the conservatively 1500 moth species found in Iowa!  Who knew!  The Wooly Bear is a sure sign of fall here in Iowa.  They are cute and fuzzy, and I found that if they are scared, they poop on your hand!  When I was a kid I remember hearing an old wife's tale that said that the wider the stripe on the caterpillar, the longer and harder the winter will be.  An article that I found online says that the stripe actually is just an indicator of how mature the caterpillar is.  Since this little guys stripe is relatively narrow, I think I choose to believe the wife's tale.  There's more romance to it anyway.  Speaking of hard winter, I read that these creatures have a natural cryoprotectant (anti-freeze) in their tissues that keeps them from freezing to death in the winter.  Isn't nature amazing?  Seems like we could use that kind of technology in the human world!

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