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~Ah! Sweet primrose you are come,
To tell us of the spring:
The hedge-rows bloom, the woods are green,
And now the birdies sing.~
~Thomas Hood ~


Most of us are not aware of the things going on around us, yet we, like all other animals and plants, make adjustments to seasonal changes in the natural world. The science that studies the timing of natural events from year-to-year and from place-to-place and examines their relationship to weather and climate is called phenology. In addition to being fun other reasons why phenology is interesting are:
Phenology is an aid to planning. When should you plant certain plants in your garden? When should you avoid bugs?
Phenology helps define causes and effects. Owls nest in winter so that young will hatch just as melting snow reveals a food supply of young mice. Many birds return as insect populations begin to appear, and likewise the emergence of many insects can be tied to the leafing out of certain plants.
Patterns of interdependency are revealed through phenology. Observations reveal a myriad of connections from the clover and the bumblebee to the monarch and the milkweed.
Longitudinal records of phenology can be used as an indicator of environmental conditions. Is global warming affecting the seasons?
Phenology is the study of periodic biological phenomena in the time of flowering or migrating, and their relationship to climate and each other. These can be accurate indicators that many gardeners go by. Making phenological observations is a great way to become conscious of the events in nature going on around you.
American sayings:
button When hornets build nests near the ground a harsh winter is expected.
button Wasps building nests in exposed places indicate a dry season.
button Stepping on an ant brings rain.
button Seeing caterpillars late in the fall predicts a mild winter.
button When spider web in air do fly, the spell will soon be very dry.
button When tarantulas crawl by day, rain will surly come.
button When scorpions crawl, expect dry weather.
button When the daffodils begin to bloom it is time to plant peas.
button Grasshopper eggs hatch at about the time the common purple lilac blooms.
button Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrels' ear.
button When the blossoms of the apple tree begin to fall, plant your corn seeds.
button Mexican bean beetle larvae appear when foxglove flowers open.
button When the lilac plant has leafed out plant lettuce, peas and other cool weather varieties. When its' flowers have faded plant cucumbers and squash.
button When the flowering dogwood is in peak bloom it is time to plant tomatoes, early corn and peppers.
button Plant tomatoes and peppers when daylilies start to bloom.
button Direct seed your morning glories when maple trees have full size leaves.
button Plant pansies, snapdragons, and other hardy annuals after the aspen and chokecherry trees are leafed out.
button When dandelions are blooming plant beets and carrots.
button Crabgrass seed germinates when forsythias are in bloom.
button Silver maples show the lining of their leaves before a storm.
button Slugs will come out in droves prior to rainfall.
button Expect rain when dogs chew on grass, sheep turn face first into the wind, oxen sniff the air, and hogs are restless.
button In Kentucky, USA, it's said that: When the gnats swarm, rain and warmer weather are believed to be coming.
button Zuni Indian Sayings:
When the white butterfly comes, comes also the summer.
button When the white butterfly flies from the southwest, expect rain.
button In western Pennsylvania, when the chrysalides are found suspended from the underside of rails and heavy branches, then extremely wet weather is predicted; if they are found on slender branches, then a spell of fairweather is predicted.
Any butterfly flying in one's face is a sign of immediate cold weather to some: others specify that a yellow butterfly flying in one's face indicates sufficient frost within ten days to turn the leaves the color of the butterfly.
As the saying goes.....
button It is an old folktale in the USA that local winter weather may be predicted by observing the width of the color band on some caterpillars. These caterpillars are black at both ends, with a reddish-brown band in the middle, and are referred to as "woolly bears".
The common species picked for "weather forecasting" is the tiger moth, Isia isabella. The theory is that the narrower thereddish-brown band, the colder and longer will be the winter: the wider the band the milder the winter. The width of the band supposedly forecasts the "average" temperature for the entire winter, and has nothing to do with a cold spell or with anoccasional storm such as the blizzard of 1888, which happened during a year the woolly bear predicted a mild winter.
Although, the "woolly bears" are the most frequently recognized meteorologist in the insect kingdom there are many other folklore about minibeasts and weather.
When bees to distance wing their flight,
Days are warm and skies are bright.
But when the flight ends near their home,
Stormy weather is sure to come."



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Wednesday, January 27, 1999


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