When birds migrate early or bees build their nests high in the trees, the winter is going to be awful. The old saying goes:

See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest.

A narrow band of brown on a woolly caterpillar means the same thing. These caterpillars have black and brown bands; according to folklore, more black than brown indicates a harsh, cold winter, while more brown than black points to a mild winter

Trees, flowers, vegetables, and plants also predict the weather. When leaves drop early, autumn and winter will be mild; but if they fall late, winter will be severe. Folklore claims that thicker onion skins can signal a cold and snowy winter.

Onion’s skin very thin,
Mild winter coming in ;
Onion’s skin thick and rough,
Coming winter cold and rough.
–Gardener’s Rhyme

Other signs of a bad winter are:

  • Flowers blooming in late autumn
  • Cornhusks thicker than normal and tight
  • Apple skins are tough
  • Berries and nuts are plentiful

When cicadas are heard, dry weather will follow, and frost will come in six weeks.
The early arrival of crickets on the hearth means an early winter.
If ant hills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard.
Spiders spinning larger than usual webs is a sign of a cold winter to come.

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