I was driving home from work the other day, and while traversing a flyover ramp getting onto the interstate, I spotted a little black and brown wooly worm.
I’m not sure why I noticed the wooly worm. As I said, I was on a flyover ramp and wooly worms are quite miniscule little creatures. But notice it I did, which led to a plethora of questions: What was he even doing there? How did he get there? Will he, in his old age as a moth, be able to regale his children and his children’s children with tales of the harrowing day he crossed the interstate when he was but a wee little child, or did he get squashed into oblivion by the BMW that was behind me on the ramp?
It later led to an “exhaustive” Google search on why wooly worms cross the road. I found a lot of information about wooly bear caterpillars, but apparently, despite the fact that it seems everyone has noticed they cross the road, nobody knows why. (Exhaustive: I looked for about three minutes and couldn’t find an answer.) Do other species of worms cross the road with the apparent frequency of wooly worms? Is this behavior not unique to wooly worms at all? I’m no naturalist, but I am fairly certain that other species of worms have decided to cross a road at one time or another, and it has gone completely unnoticed. Perhaps this is all about us, the people who notice them. Maybe we have some evolutionary quirk in our DNA that compels us to prepare for an onslaught of cold weather, and the old wives’ tale of wooly worms being able to predict the severity of the upcoming winter is so embedded into our psyches, that we subconsciously look for wooly worms in the autumn, wherever they may happen to roam.
I’m going with that. I just pulled it out of my ass, but it sounds science-y enough to be plausible.
My half baked hypothesis doesn’t answer the question of why he crossed the road in the first place. So maybe WHY he crossed the road is not as important as the manner in which he crossed it. One thing I do know about wooly worms is that when they feel threatened, they curl up into a little ball. The one I observed on the flyover ramp wasn’t curled up into a ball. No, he was just inching along, in the midst of several tons of rubber, steel, and plastic, going about the business of being a wooly worm. Was he oblivious to the danger around him? Or…just maybe, he concluded that curling up into a ball was completely unproductive given his situation, and fought every single innate instinct he had, and so trudged along with all of his might to get to the other side of the ramp before SPLAT happened.
Now, I just pulled that out of my ass, too, but I’m okay going along with it. Anthropomorphizing of wooly worms aside, only one of two things could have occurred here: He either made it across, or he didn’t. It is possible that, despite his best efforts, SPLAT happened. But curling up into a ball and hiding from the situation wasn’t going to get him where he needed to be.