What Do Wooly Bear Caterpillars Eat?
Wooly bear caterpillars are wonderful, furry creatures. But what do wooly bear caterpillars eat? Like most other caterpillars, wooly bear caterpillars eat a variety of forbs and herbs, grass and sometimes stems: plantain, nettles, dandelion, spinach, cabbage, different types of weeds. However, clovers is their favorite food. In addition, wooly bear caterpillars may eat alkaloid-laden leaves to get rid of parasitic fly larva laid inside their abdomens, which is probably the only known case of self-medication among insects. Just like bears, wooly bear caterpillars hibernate overwinter. They don’t need to eat anything all that time but a safe cavity in a log or rock is what they need to survive till spring and warm up. If you want to keep a wooly bear caterpillar, put it into a jar with a twig in late October and give it plenty of fresh grass or clovers every day. When it start punching on the twig, soon it will be time to hibernate. When it falls asleep, remove the reaming grass, leaving just the twig and put the jar outside into a place protected from bad weather (a cranny under the porch is fine). Don’t expose it direct freezing temperatures - it’s body temperature should be just over the freezing point! In spring when first green grass appears, the beat will wake up - be ready to feed it with fresh weeds every day. Soon it will turn into a cocoon, and then in a week you will release a moth!
Folklore has it that the amount of the beautiful black fur predicts severity of the coming winter, the larger part of the body is covers with black bristles and the longer the black bristles are, the colder and longer the coming winter will be. If more black bristles grow on the head, the beginning of winter will be colder, if on the tail - the end of winter will be more severe. In reality, the length and the coloring of the bristles depends on the variety and age of the caterpillar, how long and how well it has been eating, if it has been molting and other factors.
The wooly bear caterpillar is larvae of Pyrrharctia Isabella, the Isabella tiger moth. Whereas with butterflies, it’s the butterfly that is the embodiment of beauty catching out attention, with moth its vise versa: wooly bear caterpillars are unbelievably beautiful creatures, while the adult moth is quite plain and isn’t so much to look at. As it can be derived from the name, the 13 segments of the wooly bear caterpillar’s body are covered with long beautiful “fur”, black in color at the ends of the body and brownish or reddish in the middle part. However, if you touch a wooly bear caterpillars, it won’t feel anything like wool or soft fur. The stiff bristles of what looks like hair are ….That’s why it is also known under the name Hedgehog Caterpillar.
The lifecycle of a wooly bear caterpillar is different from other caterpillars. They hatch during the warm season from eggs laid by a female moth and stay as larvae through the entire winter using cavities in bark, logs or logs as a shield from the nasty weather and predators. After thawing in spiring, wooly bear caterpillars eat briefly, then cocoon, pupate and emerge as mature moths.