Still, there's one little animal you might miss if you're not paying attention - the Wooly Bear caterpillar, which is a pretty amazing creature.
|A Wooly Bear caterpillar, with it's black end segments and brown band.|
Wooly Bears have a reputation for being able to forecast the severity of the coming winter. They're fuzzy black caterpillars with a brown band around their middle. If this band is small, it's said the coming winter will be harsh. If the brown band is long, it will be a mild winter. Another bit of folklore seems to contradict this a bit - each of the 13 segments of the caterpillar represents one of the 13 weeks of winter, with the brown segments showing colder weeks.
|A Wooly Bear missing it's black end band?|
Wooly Bears are safe to handle. Some say their bristles may be irritating to sensitive skin, but as someone who has sensitive skin it's never been a problem for me. If you pick one up and it does bother your skin, washing your hands with soap and water will likely fix any issues. The bristles act as a deterrent to many predators, who find them unpleasant to eat. If you do pick up a Wooly Bear, or otherwise disturb it, chances are it will curl up into a tight little ball and attempt to play dead.
In the warmer months a Wooly Bear will eat a variety of greens, including clover, maple, oak, and birch leaves, dandelions, and other sorts of grasses and weeds.