As you all know, I love delving through old books and periodicals in search of odd little titbits of obscure zoological trivia, and not so long ago I found the following interesting snippet of information in William Brockie's book Legends and Superstitions of the County of Durham (1886), which was entirely new to me and certainly warrants a mention on ShukerNature.
So here it is:
If you throw a hairy worm, in the North called Hairy Hubert, over your head, and take care not to look to see where it alights, you are sure to get something new before long.
County Durham is in the northeast of England, and although I had never heard of Hairy Hubert before, I suspected that it was probably a local name used there for some form of hairy caterpillar.
And sure enough, when I investigated it I discovered that the creature in question was none other than the woolly bear, the famously furry caterpillar of the garden tiger moth Arctia caja, a common species in Great Britain. Another nomenclatural novelty duly deciphered!
This ShukerNature blog article is excerpted from my latest book, Secret Snakes and Serpent Surprises, published earlier this year by Coachwhip Publications and available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, and all other good online and physical bookstores.