They may not be as nationally famous as the groundhog in February, but I have spent years watching in the fall for the wooly bear caterpillar. I have been told that they are great predictors of the severity and type of winter we are going to have. Even Dr. Jeff Masters has commented on this in his WunderBlog at Weather Underground:
According to legend, the severity of the upcoming winter can be judged by examining the pattern of brown and black stripes on woolly bear caterpillars--the larvae of Isabella tiger moths. If the brown stripe between the two black stripes is thick, the winter will be a mild one. A narrow brown stripe portends a long, cold winter.
So, this past weekend I finally saw a wooly bear that I could get a picture of. All the ones I had sort of seen in passing (in the middle of the road as I drove looked similar to the one here on the right.
So, the good news from this wooly bear is that the winter here in southeastern Minnesota will be fairly mile with some difficult (read: Cold) times at either end of the season. For the wooly bear forecast for your area, go out and find your own.
I try to post this every year- but have never gone back to check what the wooly bear said and what actually happened. After all, why confuse weather lore and superstition with something as dull as facts.