image of just orange woolly bear caterpillar

What Does The Woolly Bear Foretell?

We all wonder what the winter will be like this year.

Snow? No snow? Ridiculously cold? Predictions are all over the place. Folklore is full of ways to foretell the severity of the winter. I have tried to search out some of these….and there are many.

Of course, the Farmer’s Almanac would be sort of the authority on this. And according to its pages, this coming winter of 2014-2015 is going to be a snowy one. They have flagged the first ten days of January predicting “bouts of heavy precipitation and strong winds.”  Do you think these predictions will be true? I don’t know, but we are getting those snow shovels, checking them out, and checking over the Snow blower just to be ready.

Most of you have probably heard of the woolly bear caterpillar method.

This method uses the fuzzy woolly brown bear caterpillar which seems orange and brown to me. The coming winter is predicted by how many of the segments of the middle of the body of the caterpillar are the lighter brown or orange color. The more orange in the middle, the milder the winter is.  If there are more dark brown segments, just a little orange middle, then the winter will be severe. This short video from SciFri will explain it better.

Another tradition in folklore involves nuts.

Since our forest creatures depend a great deal on nuts during the winter, it seems they would need a lot of nuts to get through the season. Therefore, this bit of folklore says that the heavier the crop of nuts is, the more severe the winter will be. Some say that lots of acorns means the winter will be worse. And then for walnuts, the heavier the nut itself relates to how severe the weather will be. Heavier shells mean more severe winter weather . How about them apples?…..I mean nuts!
Squirrels build their nests in relation to how severe the coming winter will be. The higher up the tree, the more severe the weather. And…..get this, the closer the nest is to the tree, the windier the winter will be. Who knew? We have nesting squirrels out back.  I checked to see if I could see any nests. Yes, one built in the forks of a tree!  Windy Winter, oh my!

And what about a goose killed for Thanksgiving dinner?

If the breastbone turned dark, it foretold a bad winter ( supposedly because the goose had absorbed extra oil as a natural defense against cold weather.)
Swallows fly high: clear blue sky;
Swallows fly low: rain we shall know
Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in; onion skins thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough.

My Mother used to tell me that if the first snow came early, on unfrozen ground, then we would have a mild winter. Our first snow was very early here in Ohio, so are we good? Time will tell.


Now the best predictor, and I don’t mean the most reliable, but I do mean the cutest example, is an item about the seeds inside persimmons. I had never heard of this one at all, but it may be a more local one. This one involves  the seeds of persimmons. The idea is to split the seed and find out what image is revealed inside . The image you see foretells the coming winter season.

  • a spoon or shovel ( means a lot of snow)
  • a fork ( means a mild winter)
  • a knife ( means so cold it will cut you like a knife)

Now isn’t that the best one? I need to go find me some persimmons. I hope the seeds split easily!

What forklore ( sorry, I couldn’t resist)  have you heard?

Let me know in the comments or put your info on the Facebook page.


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