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Taking an autumnal hike in Minnesota, you might come across a woolly bear caterpillar preparing the hunker down for winter. 

The remarkably hardy insect completely freezes in winter before thawing and spinning a cocoon under the leaf litter in the spring (another reminder to leave the leaves). It'll later emerge as a golden yellow Isabella Tiger Moth

With winter on the way, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service this week weighed-in on a regional folklore that's followed the critter from over a century

Can woolly bear caterpillars forecast the winter weather? According to USFWS, the short answer is no. 

Here's what the lore says: 

"According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found," The National Weather Service explains. 

"The longer the woolly bear's black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be. Similarly, the wider the middle brown band is associated with a milder upcoming winter." 

Before you go looking, you should know experts tell us that the caterpillar's color is based on factors such as feeding and age — and not what winter has in store. 

"While there's no scientific backing to the idea that the banding color can predict winter weather, it's still fun to watch for patterns," the USFWS wrote. "Even caterpillars from the same clutch of eggs can have a wide variation in color." 

However, if you remain opened-minded to the possibility, the agency recently collected a handful of woolly bears. 

All except one agreed it will be a mild winter. 

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