Over the past week, I have seen 4 wooly bears crossing the trail or hanging out on some plants. This is in spite of the fact that I have spent most my daylight hours teaching school. Wooly bears are fuzzy caterpillars and tend to appear in great numbers when the weather gets
warm in the fall. They are the caterpillar of a small white moth known as the Isabella moth. Students love to handle them because they are so fuzzy. In late September, I start looking for wooly bears in my neighborhood. If it is a warm weekend, you and your family are likely to see them on hiking trails. If you are a teacher, students can start bringing the wooly bears to school in a container with a lid. Wooly bears eat small weeds and one of their favorites is plantain, a common lawn weed.
Wooly Bear Week should begin when they are most plentiful along the trails. There are many studies that you can do with wooly bears in the classroom. You can record your observations in a nature journal.
What do wooly bears like to eat? Go outside and collect some plantain from the lawn as well as several other weeds. Put them in the containers and leave them over night. What weed did they prefer?
Wooly bear races: Line up the wooly bears in the center of a circle and see which one gets to the edge first.
Do wooly bears prefer light or dark places? Create an environment to test this question.
At the end of the week, the study will be completed and wooly bears must be returned to the place they were found.
Graphics by Jeanette Dickinson