Nov 6th, 2009

Woolly Bears, Acorns, Persimmons, Oh My ….

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Has anyone else noticed the multitude of acorns this year? Aside from unsteady footing have you ever wondered what all those acorns mean? Some say you can predict the weather by how many acorns are on the ground. Something to do with how the squirrels will need to forage more because of deep snow and a harsh winter.

Earlier this fall, you may have followed along on Facebook as we cut open a persimmon to look at the seeds with the hope of forecasting the winter. The result: inconclusive (I should have done a bit more research which direction to cut the persimmon!)

We took this photo of the woolly bear caterpillar yesterday. Based on its markings, it looks like a ver mile winter.

We took this photo of the woolly bear caterpillar yesterday. Based on its markings, it looks like a very mild winter.

In my family, we always looked to the woolly bear caterpillars to forecast the winter. I remember my mother holding one in her hand for me to pet. I expected it have soft fur like it’s namesake and being disappointed at its prickly fur. But I was even more surprised when she told me this magical little creature  could forecast the winter by the bands of color on its fur.  The folklore legend goes: the longer the brown band in the middle, the harsher the winter will be.

Funny thing is, as a kid, typically by the time winter came around, I didn’t even remember the woolly bear caterpillar’s forecast.  I was so excited about the snow and getting out of school for a few days that fall forecast seemed miles away.  And by that time, the woolly bear was back in the ground hibernating just like his namesake.

Yesterday, my colleague found a woolly bear right here at Lewis Ginter. You can see from the markings it forecasts a mild winter.

Normally I don’t put might weight in folk lore, but I’ll never forget that when I was planning for my outdoor wedding 14 years ago I consulted the Old Farmer’s Almanac and it was exactly right! (In case you are wondering — rain all day until an hour before the ceremony.)

So, if the multitude of acorns mean its going to be a harsh winter, and the woolly bears predict a mild one, what does that mean? I’m predicting it means that we’ll have some very mild days this winter and some very harsh snowy ones!  (This weekend it’s supposed to hit 70 degrees!)

What traditions do you have in your family for forecasting the weather?

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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