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A Black Woolly Worm and Two Snarky Atheists

woolly worm chart

From generation to generation, Ohio children are taught the myth of the woolly worm. Each fall, woolly worms, the caterpillar form of the Isabella Tiger Moth, make their appearance, and like Punxsutawney Phil who predicts how long winter will last, the banded woolly worm predicts how severe the coming winter will be. The blacker the woolly worm the worse winter will be, or so says the great woolly worm myth.

Like the mythical Jesus of the Bible, the woolly worm and its magical weather predicting power lives on as parents tell its story. Few will bother to investigate this claim, choosing to believe that the mostly black woolly worm they saw is a sure sign that snow will blanket Ohio for most of the winter.

Earlier, we piled into our car and headed to Tinora High School to watch our 7-year-old grandson’s flag football game. We traveled southeast on Ohio Hwy 15 for a few miles and then turned north on Evansport Road. A mile or so up the road:

Polly: Oh no, a black woolly worm. You know that means we are going to have a bad winter.

Polly, showing her dislike of winter: Maybe I should run over him.

Bruce: He’ll got to hell if you run over him.

Polly: How do you know he’ll go to hell?

Bruce: He didn’t persevere to the end.

Polly laughs, and Bruce says: He’s not one of the elect woolly worms.

Polly and Bruce have a hearty laugh, giving God nary a thought.


  1. Avatar

    In Northeast Ohio, we called them “Woolly Bears” 🙂

    Dick Goddard (famous regional weatherman) was noted for his reports on the “Woolly Bears” (and the associated festival), “Winds aloft”… and “Lake Effect”.

    Things I miss about Cleveland 😉 … including the Buzzards of Hinckley

  2. Avatar

    I always thought it was the thickness of the wooly bear coat, maybe I just misunderstood and don’t see enough of them to see any correlation anyway.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      That’s the wonder of a myth….it can be interpreted different ways. There’s probably someone who says that a brown woolly worm is a sign of a hard winter.? Far be it from me to object to how any person worships the woolly worm.

  3. Avatar

    Well, it is clear to me that you have never been a woolly wormer. You have perhaps lied to yourself regarding this matter and perhaps lied to others but one thing is clear: You are not now and never have been one of us. Had you been a woolly, you would always be a woolly. Perhaps you fear the wheels? That is understandable. It is fully wormy. Perhaps you want only to be The Moth and feel it is unworthy of you to be woolly but whatever your pathetic, belly-crawling excuse, you were never one of us. May The Moth have mercy on you. May The Moth show you your foolish self in the very moment Polly races over you in her woollymobile! May you lose your haughty snark and the blessed wool too so that we can call you, Worm and Baldy, righteously judged. You hateful scum, unworthy of free wool. I weep for you and prepare a prayer cocoon within which I will go into fasting. If believing woolly-worms do not offer the Woolly-worm Ministry Inc. at least 7 million dollars before October’s end, The Moth is calling me home. I obey only The Moth. Do not mock The Moth.

    • Avatar
      Appalachian Agnostic

      But you have not even mentioned the Mothman, who was fully moth and fully man, sent by God to the holy city of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to warn mankind about the dangers of faulty bridge design.

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