Move over groundhogs, another fuzzy
creature is aiming to predict winter's reign.
Woolly worms -- black and brown
of the tiger moth species -- have been known
to forecast how severe winter will be, with the colour of each of the worm’s 13
segments corresponding with the 13 weeks between the winter solstice and the spring solstice. The
more brown a worm is, the milder the winter, while a blacker worm predicts a harsh season.
en mass throughout North America in late September and October as they seek hiding
places for the coming cold.
To celebrate these prophetic creatures, Banner
Elk, North Carolina, located near the Tennessee border, organises
Worm Festival every October. The highlight of the festival -- this year
on 21 and 22 October -- is the woolly worm races, where the insects race vertically up a 42in
string. While many participants bring worms
the wild, the critters can also be purchased for
$1 at the festival.
The fastest worm on Saturday wins $1,000
and has the official honour of predicting that season’s weather (the fastest on
Sunday wins a consolation prize of $500). Last year’s winner had
black ends and a brown middle, predicting a
cold start and end to the season and a mild midwinter. The winter turned out
Now in its 35th year, the
festival has grown to attract more than 23,000 people and more than 140 food
and craft vendors. Daily admission costs $5 or $2
for children five to 12. Kids four and under get in free.