Tomorrow, December 22 will be the official first day of winter but Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. Day time temperature will be over 50° F for the next few days and night time will not be much lower than that. In fact, in this area Christmas Eve is predicted to be 70° F during the day.
The sad part of this unseasonably warm winter is that plants and animals are fooled by it. They base their life cycles on the seasonal temperature changes. When it’s cold they hibernate or go dormant in order to conserve energy when food is hard to find. But when it’s too warm bears will come out from hibernation. Cherry trees will bloom in Brooklyn. Our honeybees came out looking for food too. Luckily they are domesticated so we feed them. But what happens to the wild honeybees? There are no flowers for then to get nectar or pollen from.
Aside from our bees, plants in our garden are also fooled by this weather.
I don’t know what this winter will turn out to be. If the ‘rural legend’ of Wooly Bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella) hits the mark most of the time, this winter should be a warm winter. According to the text in ‘Caterpillars of Eastern North America‘ by David L. Wagner, the legend says the width of the orange band can be used to predict the severity of the upcoming winter; the narrower the band, the colder the winter.
This Wooly Bear on my glove told me the winter will be pretty warm, see how wide the orange band is. But maybe he was just stretching.