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Wooly Winter?

By Carol Clark

So what's it going to be? A mild Western Colorado winter or a harsh frozen season? Legend says you have to go no further than the Woolly Bear Caterpillar. The Woolly Bear is the caterpillar form of the Isabella Moth and you can know fall has arrived when you see one.



Superstition says when the caterpillar's middle rust ring is narrow the winter will be severe. When its middle rust stripe is wider the winter will be more mild. A friend of mine has already seen one in the valley. They like to eat dandelions and maple leaves so this might be good places to find them.

I remember playing with these fuzzy friends when I was a lonely child on a Loma farm. So far from neighbors, crawly creatures were sometimes my only friend to play with. I put them in canning jars with holes in the lids and fed them grass, but you need patience if you are going to see him turn into a moth. Even after feeding him fresh grass daily and providing him with a stick to crawl on, he eventually got tired and hibernated at the bottom of the jar. (I always thought he was dead...and maybe he was!). Then you need to put him outside in a spot protected from the weather, like a covered porch. In the spring you need to add fresh grass again daily. The caterpillar will eventually wake up and spin a cocoon then you only have a week or two to wait and out will come a beautiful butterfly! (Technically a moth.)

This is a very long commitment for a child and maybe even for most adults. I prefer to let them roam free and find a place to sleep for the winter under a rock or some leaves.

Let us know what it says about winter if you see one.

SEPTEMBER
A road like brown ribbon,
A sky that is blue,
A forest of green
With the sky peeping through.
Asters, deep purple,
A grasshoppers call,
Today it is summer,
Tomorrow is fall.

Edwina Fallis

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