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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What are You Seeing?

What are You Seeing?

No question that it has been a brutally hot summer. One can only dream about winter and cooler temps — maybe snow. This weekend I stared to notice acorn drops and leaves starting to come off the trees. I don’t view this as being particularly early. There was also an absence of squirrel activity.

In September, I’ll be doing my annual survey of the signs of winter. This is your observation of what nature is saying about the upcoming winter. Last year, acorns were limited and the winter was mild. Two years ago, we were bombarded by acorns in July and we got slammed with snow that winter. Between now and September, start making some observations I will be asking your observations about:

- Acorns — the abundance and squirrel activity.

- Wooly bear caterpillars — thin, fat, black or brown stripe.

- Persimmon seeds — cut them open and see if they are shaped like a spoon, knife, or fork.

- Spiders — numbers and size of their webs

- Wasp nest — height off the ground.

One sign of a rough winter is the number of fogs in August. Clearly, all signs are not going to be visible. And, there can be different outcomes in different parts of the US and Canada. So, pay attention and let me know what you think. Meanwhile, the 2013 Farmers’ Almanac will be in retail stores later this month. Our distribution is another sign that, the seasons are a changing.


1 KATE { 10.22.13 at 5:19 pm }


2 Jarred { 09.09.13 at 10:40 pm }

I have seen a large increase in toads around my cottage. This will be my third approaching solstice(winter) just north of NYC about 30 miles(Rockland County). I have also taken notice to wasp moving their nests form the usual overhang of my second story roof to a higher position of where a old wind vein once occupied. One more strange observation has been amoung the white tail deer community. I have seen large groups of males 4-7 in a group. All through the velvet to now. I have some on video this is strange to me. I have always observed maybe 2-3 if I was lucky in past. These large groups of Buck are something that needs a closer look.

3 Tim Henderson { 09.01.13 at 8:20 am }

Douglasville, Ga. on Sept 1st. I woke up to what seemed to be hundreds spider webs on the lawn and in the woods walking trail. There was a dense fog as well. They were not there yesterday. The weather has been hot and hazy. Also the brown spiders are making Huge webs in the shrubs to the house. One web was 3′ feet in diameter. They have been spinning webs like this all August.

4 Bruce { 08.27.13 at 6:06 pm }

West foothills of northern CA Sierra Nevada Mtns. 900′ Acorns are beyond abundant. More and more falling everyday. Squirrel activity modest. Not seen any caterpillars. Spiders? This is the woods. There are spiders everywhere! Had a brown Recluse in the bedroom… Wife totally freaked out. Don’t know why but just feel its going to be a wet CA winter. I pray so. We need rain Now! Yosemite Fire is tragic.

5 Jose S { 06.06.13 at 9:34 pm }

It’s what I’m not seeing anymore that has me worried

6 jeremy { 11.20.12 at 8:19 pm }

I live in salem oregon and have noticed the squirls are all over and very active constantly picking and burying nuts and the leaves have about halfway dropped off the apple tree in my back yard. Havnt noticed much in the way of catipillars but havnt been looking aswell. I have been throwing the squirls some nuts to see how they react with them and I notice thatt they are not taking any time to eat them they take them andd bury them 1 after the other. I’m no specialist but it seems like they are preparing for some cold weather.

7 Julia { 10.29.12 at 9:28 pm }

I live in Salem, Oregon and we are surrounded by large oak trees. The acorns this year have been overly abundant. The people around me who have lived here longer then my 8 yrs. Say they have never seen the trees behave like this. Four years ago we had a very harsh winter and the trees did not produce that many acorns. We have the normal amount of squirrel activity and spiders. I haven’t seen any caterpillars.

8 April { 10.04.12 at 4:58 pm }

I live in the central California area at about 4000 ft elevation. This year there has been a ton of acorns. A lot have dropped, but the trees are still filled with more. I’m not sure about the where the hives are, but the fuzzy black and yellow bees/bumble bees came like a swarm of flies. Usually I’ll see 2 or 3 while spending the day in my garden. My wild flowers were buzzing. Also the meat bees have been out of control. Everyone has been complaining. You cannot go outside with food, unless you want to be swarmed by them. When we play golf, there are at least 4 or 5 of them swarming at your feet and club. I’ve never seen this in my 40 years!

9 Stacey { 10.01.12 at 6:32 pm }

We live in the southern tier of NY…west of Elmira.We have had a lot of wooly caterpillars around lately! In the driveway, by the wood pile and other places. They are very fuzzy this year, but the brown stripe in the center is very wide and only 2 smaller stripes of black at the head and tail. What does that mean?

10 Andrew { 09.30.12 at 12:30 pm }

We live in Roanoke, Virginia, and there has been an over-abundance of spiders for the past few weeks. All different kinds of spiders too. I’m still getting tomatoes and the squirrels are finally leaving them alone as I suppose they have found an abundance of other food.

11 Jack and Jill { 09.29.12 at 12:36 pm }

We live in Balitmore, MD. Acorns have been dropping like CRAZY non-stop for a few weeks. 24/7. We can’t sleep at night because they come crashing down on our slate roof like gunfire. I can’t believe there are any left in the trees because our yard is carpeted in them about 1-2 inches thick. I’ve never seen this before, it’s insane. We’re going to have to get our gutters cleaned twice to get rid of all the acorns in them before the leaves drop. Also, HUGE spider webs outside 2-4 feet EVERYWHERE. Crazy! :)

12 Kristin { 09.19.12 at 5:23 pm }

I live in the metro Detroit area and we always have a lot of squirrels. I came to this site because this summer/fall the nuts from my oak and especially my hickory tree are falling like I have never seen in 42 years at this same house before and I was hoping to discover why. The way they fall can be described in no other way other than violently. They fall with such force and in such numbers. Additionally, I noticed the same unusually large spider webs all summer. Again, never seeing anything of this size, and so many of them! The squirrels too started collecting the nuts earlier than normal I thought as well at the time, and did seem really hungry.

13 CK { 09.12.12 at 9:28 am }

In Central FL acorns have been dropping since August. I’ve never seen that in 25 yrs I’ve been here. Have had LARGE masting drops twice over past 4-5 years. Had to rake them up. Will have to wait & see what winter brings.

14 Nurse Debbi { 09.03.12 at 7:21 pm }

Squirrels very active in Hudson Valley in NY but I have never seen so many large spiders and large webs everywhere this summer. Also abundance of hickory nuts in the yard. Leaves starting to change color and fall from trees. Very hot and dry summer.

15 nina { 09.01.12 at 8:53 am }

live in northwest tn.we did’nt have any squirrels last year but have two this year and they are already cutting pecans out of my tree.also cut a tree that had 3 frogs inside the rotted trunk.we got them out but they just kept trying to get back in it and cover up.

16 AnnaMom816 { 08.16.12 at 6:00 pm }

I live in northern Indiana. I haven’t seen any falling of the leaves yet, but they began to change color in spots in late July. The earliest I have seen that happen in the past was the middle of August like it is now. When cleaning the house, I have noticed some pretty good sized cobwebs while dusting, the webs and dust have been awful this year when trying to keep the house clear of them. After the hot dry spell that lasted from mid-May to late July, we have been getting quite a bit of rain and cooler temperatures. After weeks in the 90s and higher, the past couple have been mostly in the 70s. Haven’t seen any acorns or wooly worms yet. I have seen quite a few squirrels on the country roads when driving around lately.

17 Chris Medley { 08.13.12 at 3:17 pm }

ive got big webs but 1 fog this monty its already starting to cool down now leaves are changing especially around the creek and ive took a pic of a wooly worm it was nothing but solid black no brown or anything but black

18 michaelt80 { 08.10.12 at 10:17 pm }

My hickory nuts trees are slap full and so are my in-laws pecan tree,also we’ve had a few light fog mornings in Hattiesburg,Ms

19 V. Boyd70 { 08.10.12 at 2:36 pm }

I live near the Blue Ridge in central Virginia. We had foggy mornings everyday this month, acorns are dropping off the trees, and the animals are very busy around here. There are many spider webs, they are also very large. Last year, acorns were very sparse at this time. Animals didnt have much activity but were seeing more this year. Our leaves are also changing very early, I can pick out a few trees that are already starting to change color. I dont know if this is a sign or not, but it could mean something

20 Joya DeVico { 08.10.12 at 1:45 pm }

I live on Long Island, N.Y. All summer there has been more spider webs the usual. There are a lot of squirrels chasing each other. A lot of polinoses (spelling) from our maple trees, many butterflies and the bees started late this year but are coming strong.

21 snowlover { 08.09.12 at 12:28 pm }

So far we’ve had 2 patch foggy mornings and 2 foggy mornings thus far. 4 foggy mornings and it’s only the 9th of August. I heard that leaves stay on trees longer if there will be a hard winter. Sometimes not enough water will cause leaves to fall off earlier than normal. The above 5 or 6 signs are all signs that I look for. In 2009 I noticed all of them. Especially the acorns! Whew! We had so many acorns everywhere that autumn and received our first snow in early December I believe. What a great winter that was for a snowlover like me. There were snow on the ground for Christmas, which hadn’t happen in many moons:) I live in Virginia.

22 snowangel78 { 08.08.12 at 11:22 pm }

I’ve seen large spider webs, lots of spiders, a few squirrels almost everyday, my cat has extra furry already, and there were two bees nest on the top of my house.

23 Tina { 08.08.12 at 2:56 pm }

CA Sierra Nevada-deer are still up high, no squirrel activity, no pine sap dripping yet and fuzzy caterpillers seem to be finished.

24 Beebee Scott { 08.08.12 at 2:40 pm }

Don’t have a Acorn tree but do have a pecan tree here in Houston, Texas. The tree is loaded with pecans and the squirrels are active. As for the spiders, before we moved from our house to have it remodeled spiders galore (Longlegs and a variety of Globes). The temporary residence is also inhabited by spiders (the small globes you can barely see). As for Junebugs I’ve seen a few but not many. Lovebugs, I’ve seen a few but not like last year or the year before. Strange but I’ve not seen any white moth caterpillars this year on the Mulberry tree, usually this occur during the Spring and Summer months but not this year.

25 jacki59 { 08.08.12 at 11:22 am }

Susses County, NJ: Haven’t seen many acorns falling nor gathering squirrels Chipmunks are hurried gathering, also see many wild rabbits. See an abuntant of pinecones forming. Bee nests are high maybe 10ft off the ground. Many green juniper berries on bushes and trees. Spiders and webs are very large around the house but also see them everywhere. No woolies yet. The hummingbirds are many and feeding like crazy. Butterflies are very large and many. Yellow tree leaves started to fall this week.

26 reina { 08.08.12 at 10:33 am }

I have noticed in Pittsburgh…heavy fog in the mornings the past two weeks or so…the leaves are already falling off in my yard…and I have HUGE spiders and even more HUGE webs…noticed more than normal butterflies the past month…I haven’t taken notice to the walnut trees in my back yard to say whether or not there is more or less than usual.

27 Suzy { 08.07.12 at 8:31 pm }

very surprised to see a few fallen acorns today, fog lately. a little less humid than we usually get here in the suburbs of philadelphia. will begin looking for other signs.

28 USAclimatereporter { 08.07.12 at 4:45 pm }

My mom has a friend that study’s these things about acorns and squirrels

29 Karen Mcginness { 08.07.12 at 4:20 pm }

I live in Illinois. I’m not sure what this means, but our walnut tree has way more nuts then last year and the squirrels are everywhere gathering them. If they predict the same as acorns, we are in for one heck of a winter here!

30 Weatherforecaster103 { 08.07.12 at 3:05 pm }

I live in Charlotte,NC and I have noticed a lot of acorns and the squrils here are gathering acorns like crazy, and also the wasp nests are like 10-12 feet of the ground. The spiders are really big here to and there is a lot of spider webs everywhere. I have seen one wooly bear worm and it was solid black and really thick and fuzzy.

31 Kim { 08.06.12 at 9:45 pm }

Not a lot of love bugs this summer like last summer.

32 D { 08.06.12 at 9:24 pm }

I’m a beekeeper. The beehives are full of propolis this year. Propolis is a plant based substance they make to seal the hive from drafts. It’s more than usual. It makes for a very sticky inspection. This tells me its going to be a harsh winter…but it doesn’t tell me if its snow or cold :)

33 Chris { 08.06.12 at 8:30 pm }

Aug. 6,2012
South River,Ontario,Canada
Noticed Wooly Bear Catipillar 2 weeks ago. It was all brown.Acorns small but falling.

34 Diane { 08.06.12 at 7:28 pm }

Lots and lots of acorns in Lynchburg, Virginia. We have leaves changing early, acorns are dropping like crazy. The old trampoline beside the oak tree is covered with huge acorns. I have no idea why leaves are changing this early. It makes me think that our fall foliage dates will be earlier than usual this year. I have never seen this many squirrels in the back yard. This is definitely more than last year when we barely had any acorns. Fall is coming soon :) and it seems like everybody else is seeing early foliage as well!

35 Suzanne Hurst { 08.06.12 at 6:33 pm }

In Louisville, KY – lots of squirrel activity, some acorns, and more dragonflies than I’ve ever seen.

36 Ina { 08.06.12 at 5:48 pm }

I live in Il . Lots of acorns and nuts . Very busy squirrels .Lots of spiders seemingly webs are higher then last year .Seems to be more ants this year and biting more .

37 Dean { 08.06.12 at 4:43 pm }

It is August 6, 2012, and the squirrels have already emptied our two huge English (I can’t spell the other name) walnut trees in our back yard. The trees have also started to drop a lot of leaves. I wonder if this is a harbringer of an early, hard winter or if there is some insect or disease affecting the trees? In any event the squirrels have again won the walnut wars and this year earlier than ever. For reference, we live in the Pittsburgh, Pa. area of Pennsylvania.

38 DanJr { 08.06.12 at 4:03 pm }

In NH we have plenty of acorns. My black eyed susans are in full bloom and I had Monarch butteflies coming to my butterfly bush.

39 Bob { 08.06.12 at 3:43 pm }

I own a tree service company and I’ve been seeing acorns and walnuts since early-July. Also here at the in central NJ, we’ve had swarms red admiral butterflies late this spring and swarms of dragonflies this summer.

40 Susanne { 08.06.12 at 3:06 pm }

I live in Phoenix…..we don’t have those things here. What do we look for?

41 Sabre { 08.06.12 at 2:48 pm }

The leaves are starting to fall from our tree and we have noticed a ton of spiders and large webs. Hmmm…

42 Tracie { 08.06.12 at 2:42 pm }

Starting to notice the acorns in KY.

43 Coggins { 08.06.12 at 2:28 pm }

Here in North Georgia, very few acorns, but lots of hickory nuts. Lots of squirrel and rabbit activity during last two years. Ate way too much of my garden. Neighbor says he shot 22 squirrels in an hour from his front porch. Two heavy fogs in July, lasted all day long and I have never seen that happen before. We always have lots and lots of ground hogs, but haven’t seen even one since early spring. Last couple of weeks, huge swarms of red wasp, no nest, just about head high. All fruits and nuts are about two weeks to a month early producing, and tupelo berries are already ripening and falling to the ground Usually well into autumn before this usually happens.

44 Julia { 08.06.12 at 2:00 pm }

I have alot of acorns dropping everywhere. I was surprised because I heard them drop all over the place this morning. I have squirrels around my oaks and they are definitely gathering their nuts. We didnt see this last year and it turns out we had a very mild winter but this year, were definitely having more signs so that has to tell you something. My leaves are changing colors also

45 stephanie m. { 08.06.12 at 1:58 pm }

No sight of any willie worms,and its in s.illinois.

46 Sherry Smith { 08.06.12 at 1:44 pm }

In the Mountains of south WV I have ots of big acorns on the ground and very little squirrel activity. Spiders every where their webs are huge. On the fogs July had a few and two days in August had heavy fog in the morning. I have honey locust behind my house and their leaves or turning yellow. On another note the fungi in the woods are huge some are foot tall and almost as wide. I have never seen them that big. I have not seen any toads this year and usually they are abundant in my garden. No woolie bears yet.

47 Inger { 08.06.12 at 1:38 pm }

I have noticed fog lately. I am in Pa.

48 don { 08.06.12 at 1:34 pm }

nothing here on Suffolk County LI N.Y. only some oak leaves just starting to come down last night after the storm lot’s of squirrels doing nothing !

49 Brent { 08.06.12 at 1:25 pm }

I am in eastern/central NC. I have noticed an abundance of blueberries and spiders this summer. We have also had an unusual amount of severe thunderstorms containing wind and hail

50 cinda { 08.06.12 at 1:24 pm }

I videoed a very fuzzy yellow caterpillar

51 Lorna { 08.06.12 at 1:22 pm }

I have already noticed acorns for hte past two weeks in my yard.

52 Rebecca Rivera { 08.06.12 at 1:22 pm }

Squirrels very active here in NW Louisiana, late this month we have Spider Lilies that should pop up. It depends on the weather as always.

53 debi { 08.06.12 at 1:21 pm }

I have noticed an abundance of butterflies and alot of frogs.and as u said hardley any squirrels..but i have alot of spiders all around my home webs everywhere..

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