Nature Foretelling the Season

Q: This may sound foolish to some but, I have heard that you can use nature to foretell seasons. Like, pine cones growing high in the trees means a harsh winter. I was wondering if maples can tell us something too. We live in a rural area, with lots of pine birch and maples. It has always amazed me how bright red the maples throughout the valley can get. But this year they aren't. Almost all are a more orange colour with just the odd tree having the flaming red. Any ideas?

I've also noticed there are Robins still hanging around and they are usually long gone by now.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Mamajuice43 from Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada

A: Mamajuice43,

Foretelling the seasons with nature doesn't sound foolish to me. Whether fact or folklore, it's always a joy to watch for signs in nature. Here are some of the signs I've been told predict a harsh winter: Bees laying up extra honey, black and brown wooly bear caterpillars sporting thin brown stripes, hornets building nests high up in trees, squirrels storing food early, a snowfall for every fog in August, bigger-than-usual beaver lodges, bears and horses bearing thick coats early in the season and birds migrating early. If your robins don't seem concerned about winter weather moving in, chances are you shouldn't be either.


As for leaves, there are several things that affect fall color-primarily temperature and precipitation. Dry, hot conditions in late summer or an early killing frost both translate into dull fall colors. A long period of moisture and overcast skies during fall will also dull colors. Cool, sunny days followed by cool nights without frost (below 45°F) produce the best color.

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October 17, 20050 found this helpful

I have noticed that my dog will grow a thick coat before a bad winter. I noticed it because one year he did not grow a thick coat and I thought he was sick. It was was a very mild winter. One day it hit me--epiphany!

This late summer has been horrid with fiddleback spiders (Oklahoma). I'm waiting to see if there is anything unusual about the coming months.

I hope other people respond to your question. This is fascinating.

--Stone in OKC

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October 17, 20050 found this helpful

In our city's newspaper I recently read that the leaves on the trees this fall were not going to turn their usual spectacular colors as much but instead would go from green straight to brown and then fall off the trees. I live in Pennsylvania, but the newspaper article also mentioned that this may occur in the New England area as well, and the reason given for this was the unusually hot weather we had during the summer months. The weather affects photosynthesis and chlorophyll production in the trees, and this in turn apparently affects the leaf colors. I don't know what your weather was like in Nova Scotia this past summer, but it was WAY hotter than usual here in PA! So far, our leaves this fall are much duller colors than in past years. Hope this helps!

Tori from Pittsburgh, PA

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October 18, 20050 found this helpful

I always heard that the winter could be predicted based on how busy the squirrels have become in search of nuts. In my area they currently are less busy than usual.

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