Common Things Can Be Amazing


In late fall, the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) caterpillars, called Woolly Bears, are crawling over everything. There are thousands of them just here. Yesterday, I noticed one crawling about already. I never knew how amazing these caterpillars were until today.

These are northern climate moths. When their caterpillars emerge in the fall, they freeze solid in the winter. In the spring they thaw out and pupate. However, up in the arctic, where summers are so short, they can’t eat enough in one short season to develop to the state of turning into a moth. So they freeze the next winter, eat some more the next summer, and the cycle continues over many years. They’ve been known to live through 14 winters, until finally, they have eaten and grown enough over the short summers to turn into moths.

Imagine freezing solid and thawing out every winter and spring for 14 years. I know of parents who would love to have children they could freeze over and over again.

Close to home, the name of the nearby town of Sedro-Woolley is believed to have come from the Woolley Bear. The town formed in 1898 when the two neighboring towns of Sedro and Woolley Bug merged. Legend has it that the old town of Woolley Bug was named so because of all the Woolley Bears that were crawling around there. The town of Sedro got it’s name from the Spanish word for cedar, “cedro”. The man who named Sedro, Mortimer Cook, changed the c in cedro to s to make the name unique.

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