The Old Farmer’s Almanac lesser-known, slightly younger cousin, the Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack, rounded up 274 woolly bear caterpillars to try to divine the severity of the region’s coming winter. It was a rather scientific process for something so superstitious.
Anyway, here’s what they determined. On average, their front black stripes were larger than their back black stripes (though I was taught that you compare the ratio of black to brown), which they say foretells a mild winter for the Mid-Atlantic.
O woolly bears, if only I could believe in you! About.com says that the caterpillar’s markings mostly have to do with things like larval stage, and I read somewhere — though I can’t find it now — that the most they could possibly tell us weather-wise was about the previous winter.