By Matt Peterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Winter weather forecasting folklore is as old as meteorology itself. Two of the most common myths have to do with furry caterpillars and persimmon fruits.

The woolly bear caterpillar myth goes back possibly as far as colonial times, when forecasters had to rely on nature to help make predictions.

“The width of the central reddish brown band was correlated with the severity of winter,” Jason Weintraub, the entomology collection manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. “A broad reddish band meant there would be a less severe winter, and longer black portions of the caterpillar indicating there would be a harsh winter ahead.”

The myth of the woolly bear caterpillar gained momentum in the 1940s when an entomologist named Howard Curran, gave the story to a newspaper reporter.

But this forecasting folklore is simply a tall tale.

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“The width of the central band was means of predicting climate is fraught with problems, because as these caterpillars develop their color changes,” Weintraub explained.

Another well known piece of winter weather folklore has to do with a small orange fruit, the persimmon.

The folklore focuses on the seed.

According to the myth, if you cut open a seed, you can find out what type of weather is ahead.

A fork shape means a mild winter. A knife shape means a cold and windy winter. And a spoon means lots of snow.

And there’s one more forecasting folklore to share.  It has to do with October 9th.

One myth says conditions on October 9th predict the winter ahead.   Since it’s warm on this, according to that myth, the area is in for a cold winter.