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Author Topic: Wierd Wooly's  (Read 2230 times)
BlueBee
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Location: Mid Michigan


« on: March 14, 2012, 09:26:49 PM »

Anybody else north of the Mason Dixon line finding Wooly Bears in caterpillar form all winter this year?  I have been amazed to see them out crawling around in just about every month this winter.  Don’t most moth caterpillars normally spin a cocoon and overwinter in pupae form?   

I threw a couple Wooly’s in with my Polyphemous cocoons last fall.  1 spun a cocoon, the other has wondered about the poly cocoons all winter long.  I guess I better keep an eye on my polys too in case they start hatching in this warm weather.  That would be a HUGE problem because the caterpillars need oak leaves to feed on and we shouldn’t have any oak leaves until May around here  Sad


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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 01:44:46 AM »

Woolly Bears are generalist caterpillars that can actually feed on a lot of different plants. They're in the habit of eating and running too which is why you normally find them wondering around. Also I believe they can eat dead leaves but they aren't as high a quality as living tissue (usually resulting in a smaller than normal moth). The current generation of Luna moths has to get by on dead leaves and turns out much smaller in the adult form than the ones over the summer.

I think this is normal for woolly bears to be out now as long as they eventually make the cocoon.

Be on the look out for Giant Leopard Caterpillars too. In the autumn they're the solid black woolly bear caterpillars running around. However they grow to be 5 inches long by spring time!
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BlueBee
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 10:50:26 PM »

Thanks MrAnts.  I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a Giant Leopard Caterpillar.  Although I see they are native to Michigan.  I’ll have to do a better job observing this year!
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