Yellow Bears on the Move

Yellow Bear (Spilosoma virginica)
Yellow Bear (Spilosoma virginica) caterpillars are active in the fall.

It’s that time of year again.

A sure sign of fall is the appearance of woolly bear caterpillars. I was taking a walk around the Courtenay Airpark Lagoon and came across a Yellow Bear crossing the path. The Yellow Bear is the caterpillar of the Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica). It’ll spend the winter sheltered under leaves or tucked into a warm dry crevice, emerging in the spring when it will feed for a short period and then spin a cocoon.

I’m keeping an eye out for Banded Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella) caterpillars as well. These orange and black furry caterpillars are supposed to be able to predict the weather but last year the forecast was a little off. The one I found suggested a mild winter and Mount Washington got a record amount of snow! Mind you it was pretty mild at sea level in the Comox Valley and we didn’t get a great deal of snow.

If this Yellow Bear knows what’s going to happen this winter it isn’t saying.