Gift #159: Wooly bear caterpillar

Today’s featured guest is another little creature that I found on hikes at Spring Mill.  I actually saw several.  May I introduce you to the wooly bear caterpillar?  I remember seeing pictures of this little guy in my books from early childhood, but I’ve never seen one in real life.  It’s official name is Pyrrharctia isabella and it’s the larva of the Isabella Tiger moth, a lovely brownish moth that looks just like withered leaves.  Wooly bear caterpillars are really interesting because, unlike other caterpillars, they hatch from eggs in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form.  It actually freezes solid from the inner gut outward, and it survives by a cryoprotectant in its blood.  Isn’t that fascinating?!  According to Wikipedia, wooly bears in the Arctic region will live through several warm seasons eating what they can find and freezing each winter.   Despite looking cute and cuddly, I remembered from my childhood books that the setae are bristly and barbed, so they can cause an allergic reaction, but they aren’t dangerous or poisonous.  They are quite harmless and very handsome caterpillars. 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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