Looking Out My Back Door – October 27, 2013

You live and you learn, so they say.  And that is definitely true for me, as I learn something (at least one something, sometimes many things) every day.  The problem is remembering what I’ve learned.  This blog and my other blog http://queenofsienna.wordpress.com, are a partial repository of things learned.  I can always refer back to those posts and refresh my memory.

I’ve learned something recently about woolly bear caterpillars.  There seems to be quite a large number of them this year.  I don’t know what that means.  Is it perhaps a sign of a mild winter?  Or maybe a harsh winter?  Or maybe just a sign that I’ve been more observant.

Woolly Bear Caterpiller

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

I snapped the photo of the caterpillar above as he was making his way across my back stoop.   

The following was taken from Wikipedia:

“The Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate.

Pyrrharctia Isabella

Pyrrharctia Isabella

“In most temperate climates, caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth – and hence feeding – is so short that the Woolly Bear must feed for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.

“Recent research[4] has shown that the larvae of a related moth Grammia incorrupta (whose larvae are also called “woollybears”) consume alkaloid-laden leaves that help fight off internal parasitic fly larvae. This phenomenon is said to be “the first clear demonstration of self-medication among insects”.

“Folklore of the eastern United States and Canada holds that the relative amounts of brown and black on the skin of a Woolly Bear caterpillar (commonly abundant in the fall) are an indication of the severity of the coming winter. It is believed that if a Woolly Bear caterpillar’s brown stripe is thick, the winter weather will be mild and if the brown stripe is narrow, the winter will be severe. In reality, hatchlings from the same clutch of eggs can display considerable variation in their color distribution, and the brown band tends to grow with age; if there is any truth to the tale, it is highly speculative.”

This Wikipedia article went on to say that there a several Woolly Bear festivals held across the United States and one is held in Oil City, PA where they have their woolly bear named “Oil Valley Vick” predict the winter weather.  He made his first prognostication back in 2008 and the locals hope that some day the crowds will rival that of Punxsutawney Phil.

The brown band on my caterpillar was relatively wide, so I’m going out on a limb right now and predicting a relatively mild winter for New England.  Yup, you heard it right here, folks. Mild winter!

Okay, you’ve learned your one thing for the day…you can go back to bed now.

Oh, wait!  Don’t go to bed yet…I just remembered that I promised in my last post that I would cut one of those hardy oranges in half and show you what the inside looks like.

Hardy Orange Tree at the End of October

Hardy Orange Tree at the End of October

The little oranges have pretty much ripened now and some are beginning to drop off the tree.

Can You See the Fuzz?

Can You See the Fuzz?

It’s hard to capture the fuzzy exterior of this orange in a photo.  The interior is full of seeds that are about the same size as the seeds in a regular orange (and the fruit is only about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter).  The entire interior is full of seeds.



The juice is more than tart…it’s bitter.  I have read that you can make marmalade with this fruit…but after you get rid of the seeds and add enough sugar to make it palatable, it doesn’t really seem worth the trouble.

And, the fresh pineapple facial followed by the baking soda scrub that I discussed in my last post was a success!  I rubbed a 1 inch square piece of fresh pineapple on my face and let it dry for about 10 minutes.  I then rinsed it off in the shower and, while still in the shower, I applied the baking soda paste and then rinsed that off.  My skin was noticeably smoother!  I will be using the baking soda scrub often and the pineapple whenever it’s on sale.  Definitely a winner.

Although we have had frost, not a real killing frost but frost nonetheless, this dandelion is still thriving.

Dandelion Amonst the Fallen Leaves

Dandelion Amongst the Fallen Leaves

Graycie loves to run from window to window hoping to see the neighbor cat walking by.  I guess the best view out the kitchen window (for her at least) is from the high vantage point on top of the refrigerator.  She sits like a statue up there, hoping I won’t notice her…

Pretending to be a Statue

Pretending to be a Statue

What tickles me is that she positions herself next to the ceramic cat that I have up there and they look so cute side by side.

And that’s all there is to report for now.


One thought on “Looking Out My Back Door – October 27, 2013

  1. KerryCan

    Well! That whole thing about the woolly bear freezing solid gave me the willies! But then the picture of Graycie warmed me up again–she’s looking great, and like she has definitely domesticated you!


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