Feathered Friends Backyard Guests/ Free Gardening Tips/ Insects

Banded Woollybear Caterpillar

The banded woolly bear caterpillar and moth can be found nearly everywhere in The United States. It feeds on low growing plants but is not a pest to garden and farm crops.

Banded woolly bear or just woollybear or woolly worm caterpillar. That is all the names this brown and black banded caterpillar goes by.

Banded Woollybear Caterpillar

  • Black at both ends and a rust-colored in the middle section.
  • Generally found during the autumn months.
  • Doesn’t sting or bite when picked up.
  • The little bristle hairs can get under your skin and cause irritation.

Some people once thought that the thickness of different bands of the bristle hair would tell how hard or cold the winter was going to be.  Turns out, those are old wives’ tales.


The woolly bear caterpillar eats a variety of leaves, grass, weeds, like dandelion, nettles and plantain.

The Leaves Woolly Eats

  • Asters
  • Birches
  • Clover
  • Corn
  • Elms
  • Maples
  • Sunflowers

The caterpillar also enjoys a variety of grasses and weeds, like dandelion, nettles, and plantain.


The fuzzy woolybear caterpillar turns into the Isabella tiger month.

Getting Ready For Change

About a week or so before the first frost in our area, the woolly worms begin to wander around aimlessly. You will see a healthy population if you are looking for them on roadways, sidewalks and even in your lawn.

The caterpillars are looking for a good place to hibernate for the winter months. They hibernate as a caterpillar under rocks and leaf litter piles.

When they emerge from hibernation they will eat a few days and then spin a silken cocoon. Four weeks later they emerge as the Isabella Tiger Moth. This happens between April and June. With a second wave two months later.


Meet The Adult Form of The Woolly Bear Caterpillar

  • Pale yellow to orange moth with a small head.
  • Furry thorax.
  • A conspicuous line of black dots runs along the abdomen.

After the female lays her eggs, her lifecycle is complete.

Isabella Tiger Moth Attribute


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