Spider webs…nature’s alert tones!

spiderwebGarden folklore says that if spiders weave abundant webs it is the precursor to a rough winter. I am not sure about the webs the spiders have created in your garden, but mine are mesmerizing. The spiders have been very noticeable and obviously up to something. Call it folklore; but there is a scientific term “Phenology” which is the study of the relationship between climate and periodic biological phenomena like spiders weaving their webs shorter during an approaching storm or thicker in preparation for a rough winter.  The flowering period of plants, bird migration, insect hatching, behaviors, and hibernation are all phenological events.

Gardeners and farmers have used phenology since they began to cultivate earth. They simply used intuition and observation to learn the connection to nature for successful growing and harvesting. The reasoning is valid, because you cannot always rely on the calendar. A cold wet spring may delay planting and blooming, a warm winter period fools bulbs into emerging. Watching natural behavior instead of the calendar for garden activities and weather forecasting brings out the phenologist in all of us.

As fall has ushered in the colors of the leaves deepen and the days grow shorter, a common question is with such a crazy hot/cold

summer, what will winter bring. Does nature really know the secret?

 Interesting lore and facts on how nature signals the seasons:

-If the foliage on the trees is thick and hangs on late in the fall, it is going to be a hard winter. The reasoning is- the heavier foliage creates thicker ground cover, which in turn protects larva and other organisms below the soil.

-If fur on animals (such as squirrels, rabbits, deer, fox, and bear — or even domestic fur-bearing animals, if they stay outside all the time) is thick, it is going to be a hard winter.

-It is said that horses spook more easily around Halloween. It is not eerie, but more a sign of fall in full swing.  Daylight hours lessen and shadows shift and move differently as the sun lowers in the sky. They cast longer shadows across pathways and wind rattles dried fallen leaves making a shift in natural sounds; causing a reason to spook or feel unsettled.

-Clear moon, means frost soon. When the night sky is clear the earth’s surface cools rapidly because there is no cloud cover to hold the heat. If the night is clear enough to see the moon, then the temperatures will drop.

-Wasps building nests in exposed places indicate a dry season, when they build nests near the ground a harsh winter is expected.

The interesting part of the spider theory in this year’s garden; forecasters are telling we will have a snowy, wet winter with temperatures below normal.  Hmmm…spiders or forecasters… only time will tell.


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