The Mountain Eagle
Whitesburg KY

Woolly worms differ whether winter will be awful or mild

The National Association of Woolly Worm Winter Weathers Watchers (NAWWWWW), after watching both the Republican and Democratic Conventions a few months back, has decided to forego its own convention this year. “Politicians are giving conventions a bad name,” they say, “so we are simply trying to avoid the ugliness.”

As a result, they are leaving the actual forecast up to pollsters, like yours truly, to get in touch with the woolly worm population at large to determine what the majority of likely voters have to say about the upcoming cold season weather.

The only problem with that, other than the amount of time it takes to do such polling, is that members of NAWWWWW keep changing their minds almost daily. For example, a poll conducted last Monday showed nearly 60 percent of a random sampling favoring a forecast of cold and dreary weather with no let up from December until May.

Five days later, on Friday, the same poll had over 60 percent of likely voters favoring a forecast of mild and balmy throughout the same period. So whom do you be- lieve and when do you believe them?

In addition to my own observations, several readers have been in touch with me to relay woolly worm news.

Rachel Dickerson sent me a photograph of a very large, solid-black one she’d come across in Lancaster. John Lackey has encountered a solid white one in Richmond. Jim Snowden saw three blond woollies on a side street in Harlan.

Jack Crase says he saw several dark brown ones with numerous orange spots on them at the park in Brodhead.

“You could actually say they were polka-dotted,” said Crase. “I’ve never see anything like them and I have no idea what they’re trying to tell us.”

Jerry Back said he saw several in the parking lot at the Craig’s Creek boat ramp on Laurel Lake that were mostly dark brown with numerous “orangish” bands around them, but he said there was nothing consistent about the location of the lightercolored bands. He said several were dark colored on both ends and several had lighter-colored heads and tails.

Several people have also chimed in from Letcher County with a mixed bag of reports including solid black, totally blond and dark brown with orange rings.

None of the people who have been in touch in regards to these random sightings were actually out there looking for woolly worms. They were simply minding their business and/or were engaged in other pursuits when they had chance encounters with the caterpillars.

I am the only person I know of who seriously spends a substantial amount of time during the first few weeks of autumn actually looking for members of NAWWWWW. I’ve been doing it all my adult life for at least the last 50 years.

And, while I have not recently wandered far and wide across the state as I used to do in search of Weather Watching Woollies this time of year, I have found a few hundred at various locations in Garrard, Madison, Jessamine and Rockcastle counties.

While NAWWWWW is, in reality, a pullingyour leg figment of my overactive imagination, I really and truly do put a considerable amount of effort into tracking down and studying a large bunch of woolly worms to have some fun with forecasting the winter weather. The worms have been right far more often than wrong over the decades.

NAWWWWW says that the coming winter will be wetter but warmer than normal. Look for numerous snowfalls that melt off rapidly along with frequent cold rain showers. Mud promises to be to be a greater aggravation than slick roads. A hard freeze in mid April will happen yet again.

However, after discovering that woolly worm carcasses are the principal ingredient of an entrée called “fuzzy scrapple” at a certain restaurant in Wind Gap, Penn., NAWWWWW says it will do everything in its power to keep that neck of the woods in blizzard conditions from Halloween of 2016 until Memorial Day, 2017.

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