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280 days of Urbpandemonium #184

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I've found woolly bears (Pyrrharctia isabella*) in lots of weird places--basically under anything you leave in the yard overnight--but in a small juniper bush? That's new on me. They eat the foliage of broadleaf trees, lots of weeds, and even grasses, but not conifers to my knowledge. Maybe it just went for a walk out on a limb. Woolly bears on the short list--for some people a VERY short list--of insects that people don't really mind. Their protective covering of defensive black and red-brown setae are reminiscent of the pelage of a charismatic mammal. They overwinter in leaf litter and in under loose objects as larvae, ensuring that they are familiar to anyone tidying their property in the fall. Their diet and their ability to survive difficult weather has led them to spread throughout most of North America. Normally I'd tell you not to handle any colorful hairy caterpillar, but I spent half my childhood playing with these, so knock yourself out.
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*In Latin "Pyr" means fire or heat and "arc" means cold (referring to the arctic or the North pole). "Isabella" refers to an isabell color (greyish-yellow). When all of these Latin word parts are pieced together, the name Pyrrharctia isabella is fitting due to the fact that in the larval stage Pyrrharctia isabella has bright orange bands resembling fire, and portrays the isabella color in the adult stage. Additionally, this species is able to survive cold temperatures and is commonly found in arctic regions, thus attributing significance to the "arc" part of it's name.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2015 12:26 am (UTC)

Superstitious members of my family believe that the length of the colors "predict" the roughness of the winter ahead.

To which I reply, nope. It's the ruggedness of the beaver dams that indicate how the winter will be.

I too have played with the woolly bears.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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