The familiar hairy caterpillar, reddish brown in the middle, black at the ends, about 1-1/2 inches long. The light brown adult moth is not real showy, but it is distinct.
Many habitats, feeding on many different woody and herbaceous plants. Never considered a problem in the garden.
Common throughout north America, especially the East.
Two broods, the second overwinters as a caterpillar and pupates in Spring. Caterpillars wandering around in the Fall are seeking places to hibernate.
A number of factors affect the variable brown and black coloring including age: there tends to be more red each time a caterpillar molts. This may be the basis of the woolly bear's ability in folklore to predict the severity of the coming winter by the narrowness of its red band. With early cold –possibly a long winter- we would see only younger caterpillars - with less red - going into hibernation.
But what about the shear abundance of them this year? What does that mean? It means they're having a good year! About every 10 years they have a good one and this is it.