Weather predictor or not, wooly bear caterpillars are part of fall folklore.

Some say all black bristles mean a bad winter is coming.

That’s interesting because the larva usually has a rusty brown band in the middle.

Some state residents are posting pictures of all black caterpillars, and debating what it means.

Got your attention?

Then here are some more tidbits about these curious critters:

Each individual caterpillar has 13 segments of brown or black bristles.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Their bodies contain a kind of natural antifreeze that keeps them alive during winter.

They thaw in the spring, and grow into an Isabella tiger moth.

In the fall, they are especially visible crossing roads and other paths looking for a place to hibernate, traveling up to a mile a day.

Feeding habits may be responsible for a caterpillar’s coloring, according to the National Weather Service.

NWS scientists maintain that bigger, well-fed ones have larger black bands and more narrow brown segments.

So, does that mean there’s no merit to using these crawling creatures to predict the coming winter?

Not necessarily.

A Wooly Worm Festival is an annual event in Elk Creek, North Carolina., where organizers claim to have an 87 percent accuracy rate in its predictions.

It’s probably still best to be prepared for snow and slick conditions regardless of what these cuties look like.

Contrary to some scuttlebutt, they are prickly but not poisonous.

Their main defense mechanism is rolling up into a ball if picked up or otherwise disturbed.

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