Monday, October 21, 2013

Cheap Factory-Made Woolly Bears

On our walk to Pere Marquette last week, Zachary and I saw lots of caterpillars crawling across the roads. For the first twenty or so I stopped and made a little squee and talked about how cute they were, but for the next several dozen I was content to simply look at them. 

The most common caterpillar we saw was the Woolly Bear, a caterpillar which turns into the Isabella Tiger Moth. This is what one looks like as a caterpillar:

And this Wikipedia link will show you the moth they turn into, as well as some crazy facts (they freeze solid during the winter, apparently!).

Farmers’ lore says that you can tell how long the winter is going to be by looking at the band of orange-brown between a wooly bear’s black ends. If it’s narrow, the winter will be harsh. If it’s wide, the winter will be mild.

I, of course, got the prediction backwards, and so spent the entire walk exclaiming what a crazy harsh winter this was going to be! The band was very wide in every caterpillar we saw. Some of the caterpillars had barely a smidgen of black on either end, and others only had a black end on their head. Zach remarked that they look like they had been cut from one long cylinder of striped fuzz.

“There must be a factory where a slicer cuts off the little segments,” Zach said. “But the slicer isn’t very precise, so the caterpillars all look different.”

Within seconds, we had determined that these caterpillars were the result of a cheap factory line (probably made in China), being mass-produced and edging out the good old-fashioned handmade woolly bears. “Why, in my day, our caterpillars were painstakingly handcrafted, not like this cheap factory junk. And they had uniform bands of color, doggonit!”

Have I mentioned that I love autumn, long walks, and my husband?


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