Woolly bear caterpillars are an adorable black-and-orange fall sight as they wiggle their way across driveways, up trees, and over small obstacles in their way. As they march, they look for a sheltered place to curl up before the cold winds of winter bring ice, snow, and plunging temperatures. Yes—woolly bears are caterpillars that hibernate through the winter!
Woolly bears have been equipped by their Designer to produce a natural antifreeze called glycerol that protects their cells when they freeze during the winter months. As temperatures rise and fall naturally throughout the winter months, the caterpillar faces the potential of freezing and thawing repeatedly. So God designed the caterpillar’s setae (the “fuzzy” outer covering) to control the freezing process, allowing them to freeze slowly without damaging their cells. As the weather warms, the woolly bears thaw and search for delicious spring plants to munch until they pupate into cocoons and emerge in early summer as the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia Isabella).
As spring arrives, keep your eyes open for the woolly bears emerging from their winter hibernation. Then, as the summer arrives, keep an eye on your porch light for a glimpse of an Isabella tiger moth, a 1.5-inch orange moth with black spots and stripes.
Discover more about hibernating creatures . . .
In the most recent episodes of Hike and Seek, wildlife filmmaker Peter Schriemer continues learning about Fall:
Take a hike through the colorful season of fall to learn how different animals sleep through the winter months and why leaves change color. Be reminded of how God gives us a time to rest and meet some incredible creatures that sleep during the winter - like woolly bear caterpillars, woodchucks, treefrogs, snakes, and bears!
Experience the harvest season in search of creatures that forage for food through the fall and winter months. Be reminded of how God provides a harvest time for His creation and for His children. Get to know some friendly foraging animals like squirrels, porcupines, turkeys, and deer - and visit an apple orchard!