By Joe Boggs, Ohio State University Extension
Bristly “woolly bear” caterpillars commence their annual crawl-abouts in search of sheltered winter quarters in the fall. You may see noticeable numbers crossing roads with some unfortunates becoming laminated onto tires. Their crawl-abouts may start as early as late September and continue until early November in Ohio. It depends on the weather.
Woolly bears (woolly worms in the south) are the caterpillar stage of medium-sized moths known as tiger moths (family Erebidae; subfamily Arctiinae). The caterpillars are so-named because of their short, stiff bristles. The sharp-pointed bristles serve to defend the caterpillars. However, they are not stinging hairs; they do not inject venom. Still, some people suffer severe localized reactions if the hairs penetrate their skin.
Woolly bears will roll themselves into a tight ball when disturbed to bring to bear their defensive bristles. Their resemblance to hedgehogs is referenced by the alternate common name “hedgehog caterpillars.”… Continue readingRead More »