Watch for Woolly Bears

For me, fall officially arrives with the appearance of woolly bear caterpillars. These fuzzy black and brown caterpillars are the larva of the Isabella Tiger Moth. During the fall, the caterpillars seek shelter under bark and leaves where they remain protected from winter weather until the spring. Once warmer temperatures arrive, the caterpillar will spin a cocoon, then the adult moth emerges to begin the life cycle once again.

During these mild October days, woolly bears are quite visible crossing roads and you may see them crawling on the ground as you're walking in nearby parks or other natural areas. Many people believe that the width of the brown band can predict the severity of the coming winter, with a wide band indicating a mild winter. This idea came from an informal "study" by C. H. Curran, curator of entomology at AMNH. Beginning in 1948, Dr. Curran and his friends collected caterpillars at Bear Mountain State Park and measured their band widths. After eight years ...more ↓

Posted on October 24, 2013 08:10 PM by americanmuseumofnaturalhistory americanmuseumofnaturalhistory | 0 comments | Leave a comment
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Recent observations View all

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Bryzoa

Observer

muhamrif

Date

September 6, 2014 09:04 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

shirine

Date

August 11, 2014 05:01 PM EDT

Description

What kind of moth is this?

Photos / Sounds

What

Beetles Order Coleoptera

Observer

lucysnyder2

Date

July 17, 2014 06:59 PM EDT

Description

Beetle

Photos / Sounds

14457759199_b056d5d53f_s

What

Tobacco Hornworm Manduca sexta

Observer

anita363

Date

July 8, 2014 09:59 AM EDT

Description

So I’m coming out of the subway in downtown Manhattan when I spy this huge Carolina sphinx moth (body length 70 mm) resting quietly on the last flight of steps. It was so tattered, with an entire wingtip missing, that I thought it might be dead, & when I first lifted a wing aside to reveal the orange spots it didn’t even react, but yes, it turned out to be alive. It was a new species for me, and such a bizarre find – I’m sure many miles from any significant concentration of tomato or tobacco plants. And me without my camera.

So I went up to my office, rooted around my desk & discovered a tiny cardboard box that was just moth sized. The moth had been so sluggish that I didn’t anticipate much trouble getting it home, but as soon as I picked it up & put it in the box it commenced trying to beat its brains out against the inside of the box. I thought maybe it’d calm down after the trauma of being unceremoniously stuffed in a box was past, but it was still at it when I got back up to my office.

Well, I figured, it’s nocturnal: now that it’s in a dark box it thinks it’s night. So I transferred it to a clear-lidded leftover container and waited a few minutes for it to return to its daytime subway-steps torpor. Still the brains-beating-out operation continued.

I finally resorted to sticking it in the work fridge – thoughtfully adding opaque plastic bag first; wouldn’t do to leave outré snacks lying around in full view. Then, contemplating the 1.5-hr commute, I threw a sweater in the opaque plastic bag in the fridge & wrapped the container in this prechilled insulator before the journey. Seems to have done the trick, because the moth was still quiet when I unwrapped it, though it resumed trying to fly as soon as it saw the light. I popped it back in the home fridge, with strict “do not eat” instructions to my long-suffering husband, & took it out for a photo shoot in the morning light.

Photos / Sounds

What

Stag beetle Pseudolucanus capreolus

Observer

emiliedwolf

Date

June 21, 2014 08:53 PM EDT

Description

3 beetles on pavement, 1 dead
About an inch in length
Dark brownish-red color
Large mandibles - 2 points on each mandible

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Tree Squirrels Genus Sciurus

Observer

jamiesheff

Date

June 8, 2014 08:55 AM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Pillbugs Family Armadillidiidae

Observer

patricklempert

Date

May 31, 2014 09:28 AM EDT

Photos / Sounds

Observer

patricklempert

Date

May 23, 2014 11:38 AM EDT

Description

Green yellow caterpillar

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

charlesr

Date

April 1, 2014

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

I believe these are eggs. Found them underneath the bark of a dead tree.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

Shells of an invertebrate, maybe more snails?

Photos / Sounds

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

Some spider webs, but no spider. For some reason, a cluster of pebbles is suspended in the spider web. Any ideas what they might be for?

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

Worm I dug up

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

Worm I dug up

Photos / Sounds

What

snails Class Gastropoda

Observer

artybrodskiy

Date

November 3, 2013

Description

Some kind of snail/slug

Arachnids

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Arachnids Class Arachnida

Observer

patricklempert

Date

November 1, 2013 12:01 PM EDT

Description

A group of many little spiders hidden behind a tree web. No parent spider present.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Soil Centipedes Order Geophilomorpha

Observer

patricklempert

Date

November 1, 2013 12:22 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Pillbugs Suborder Oniscidea

Observer

patricklempert

Date

November 1, 2013 12:17 PM EDT
Insects

Photos / Sounds

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What

Insects Class Insecta

Observer

patricklempert

Date

October 6, 2013 02:11 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Observer

charlesr

Date

September 3, 2013

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

ckmg

Date

September 12, 2013

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Dagger Moth Acronicta americana

Observer

patricklempert

Date

August 17, 2013 01:42 PM EDT

Description

Yellow caterpillar w/ 2 black antennas protruding from midbody and 1 on the back

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Cabbage White Pieris rapae

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Description

Feed in sedum.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Description

Slightly worn on the wing tips.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Silver-spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Tags

Photos / Sounds

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Description

These are extremely bristly wasps. they generally seem to crawl around the flowers gathering nectar, not quite as graceful as some of the other wasps at making their way around a flower head. Very colorful though, yellow, black, orange-red and the blue black wings.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Description

This was a female Zabulon with a slight purple gray showing on the wings. It was just perched on a leaf. Oddly still for a skipper.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Eastern Amberwing Perithemis tenera

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Yellow Bumble Bee Bombus fervidus

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

jholmes

Date

August 11, 2013

Description

As usual, this one was moving fast from flower to flower. Legs full of pollen.

More observations

About

Long before he became the Conservation President, native New Yorker Theodore Roosevelt was an avid naturalist who loved the outdoors and kept detailed natural history notebooks.

Join us in celebrating the reopening of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural History with New York Is Wild! In this project, we’ll honor Theodore Roosevelt’s passion for nature by ...more ↓

This project is inspired by A Seasonal Guide to New York City's Invertebrates - we hope you'll use the monthly suggestions as an excuse to get outside, explore, and share the invertebrates you find with us. Check out the what else people are finding in New York in the New York City Species Guide!
10048-mini americanmuseumofnaturalhistory created this project on October 04, 2012
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