Divining the Weather: Will Winter This Year be Kind or Cruel?
There has been an ongoing argument among some of my Facebook friends about the Banded Wooly Caterpillar and if this animal really can predict the weather of the winter to come. A Wooly Caterpillar is black with a middle band that is brown or tannish. If the brown band is narrow, the coming winter will be harsh. Naturally, if the band is wide, it will be a mild winter. I have to admit I have never seen any of these caterpillars, so I cannot comment on whether these animals actually do predict the weather. But having been watching nature and the weather for most of my life, I can make a few educated guesses. I do believe that where I live, Western New winter will be harsh. Naturally, if the band is wide, it will be a mild winter. I have to admit I have never seen any of these caterpillars, so I cannot comment on whether these animals actually do predict the weather. Apparently, there is a professor at UMass who, after years of study, says that they are actually commenting on the previous winter. I find the subject fascinating.
Having been watching nature and the weather for most of my life, I can make a few educated guesses. I do believe that where I live, Western New York, is going to see a colder, snowier winter this year. These are my observations:
Moss. When I was a little girl, my mother told me that if the moss grew thick, that it would be a hard winter. Earlier in the summer, I was hiking in the woods, and sat under a tree to rest a while. The moss growing there was so thick and lush, it was like a pillow. Everywhere I went this summer, I was struck by the lushness of the ground cover.
Another thing was the amazing amount of acorns everywhere. Sitting in my tree stand a few weeks ago, listening to them drop, it was like listening to rain. It’s almost like Mother Nature is providing for the deer and squirrels and turkeys before she gets really tough with all of them. A single oak tree can feed dozens of animals.
It’s been too warm for the geese to move, but that’s another sign … if the migration starts early. But since it’s been so warm, you won’t see geese moving until this week or probably next week, when the skies will be filled (I have to say that it’s one of my favorite things to see, geese moving across the sky).
I haven’t yet harvested a deer, but my friend has, and he told me that the doe he brought down was heavy with fat. I have been hunting for many years and I can tell you that when the deer are carry an extra layer of fat, it will be a cold, hard winter. Maybe we’ll even have a blizzard! We haven’t had a good blizzard in years.
Another thing are spiders and bees. If you see lots of spiders or spider activity (webs and web-making), then there will be a harsh winter. Also, if you kill a spider, it will rain. Heavy bee activity in the fall also foretells a harsh winter, because bees are trying to get all the pollen they can before they are unable to do anything at all.
I know people who will laugh at all this, and say that these signs are “old wives tales” or just plain silliness. But one person’s silliness is another one’s wisdom. So who knows? Only time will tell. Come January, when the snow is flying, I’ll be here … to say, “told ya so”.