As winter approaches, the last thing a savvy Michigander would do is depend on the meteorologist to predict the kind of winter that we will be having this year. Satellites, doppler radar, and spending the prime of their lives in an institution of higher learning, cannot compare to predicting the weather through the signs of nature. At least in my world. 

Our forefathers didn’t have the technology that we currently consult. It was the keen eye of the struggling pioneers that knew the signs of the world around them and probably acquired from the local native Americans, who had developed a close relationship with the wilds. However, the trusty groundhog has its drawbacks in accuracy. 

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After perusing the trusty internet, I have compiled a list of: 

 The Top 5 Tips For Predicting The Upcoming Winter Through The Critters of Nature 

Spiders: Rather than avoid the arachnid, take a close look at its habits. If there are more spiders than usual, and they are spinning larger webs, it could be a sign of a cold harsh winter ahead. Also, if they are entering your home in larger numbers, it may be a sign that they sense they should buddy up with you, in order to avoid the frigid weather approaching. 

Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar: This little feller has been a longtime favorite with folklore weather predictors. That brown band in their mid-section is the key to the question. It all depends on the width of the band. A wider band indicates a milder winter, a narrow band is said to predict a harsh winter. If the Woolly Bear is wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, I would say that it has been subjected to loud rock music and its faculties have been affected and is not to be a trusted source.   

Squirrels: These lovable little cousins to the rat usually start gathering nuts around the time of the first frost. The word on the street is that if they are FRANTICALLY gathering nuts, it may be they are sensing a harsh winter, or, the homeowner has greased the pole that the bird feeder sits upon. 

Geese: In past times, geese would fly south for the winter in their infamous “V” formations. If their departure seemed earlier than usual, it is another sign of a harsh winter. Nowadays, they seem to just hang out and soil your favorite beach. 

Animal Fur: Farmers have long observed their livestock and judged the upcoming winter on the thickness of the fur. Those who raised poultry were out of luck. Urban dwellers could size up the thickness of their dog’s coat. If instead, they’re wearing a jacket, it looks like mild weather. 

Here is a handy Quick List of those who didn’t make the detailed listing:   

  • Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank 
  • Insects marching a bee line rather than meandering 
  • Early arrival of crickets on the hearth 
  • Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands 
  • Early migration of the Monarch butterfly 
  • Woodpeckers sharing a tree 
  • Early arrival of the Snowy owl 
  • Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck 
  • Mice eating ravenously into the home 
  • Pigs gathering sticks 
  • Early seclusion of bees within the hive 
  • “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest” 

If the dire warnings of a possible shortage of fossil fuel to heat your home, or a failure of the electrical grid come true, you may want to post this handy guide to your non-functioning refrigerator! 

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