New England has a natural weatherman, and it is a little fuzzier than you might expect.
A Vermont Agency of Transportation staff member found a woolly bear caterpillar in one of the state's airports. According to folk legend, the creature can predict how severe the winter ahead will be.
How? Just look at the creature's stripes. Here's what the agency says they mean:
1. Broad Rusty Band = milder winter
2. Large Black Band = more severe winter
3. Fuller Wool = more severe winter
4. Long Black Head & Tail = severe winter at the beginning/end
5. All Brown =very mild winter
6. All Black = very severe winter
The myth of the caterpillar as an indicator of winter’s strength has been around since colonial times, according to the National Weather Service. It's even inspired several festivals across the country, including the Woolly Bear Festival in Ohio and the Woolly Worm Festival in North Carolina.
Despite its popularity and cult of followers, however, there is no actual proof that the fuzzy creature can predict seasonal change. The caterpillar’s coloring and width of its stripes are indicators of the animal’s age or its feeding habit, the agency says, not a sign of snowy winters.
For those who still believe in the caterpillar's prophetic abilities, however, the woolly bear spotted in Vermont could be a good omen for whether New England's unseasonably warm weather will continue through spring.