MAYSVILLE, JONES COUNTY - Local farmers are noticing a few signs that winter may be harsh this year, according to Old Wives Tales.
Maysville farmer Lois Simpson says the cockle burrs in her yard produced burrs really early this year. She says her mother always connected this to an early frost, which happened. She also says her acorns have had a thicker cap on them, which is indicative of a harsh winter.
"You can see the shell on them the cup, that right there that thickness of a cup lets you know it's going to be a hard winter." says Simpson.
A few other old wives tales' also point to harder winters, like an abundance of berries and squirrels with extra-bushy tails. Another tale is the height of a wasp or hornets' nest. However, workers from several pest removal companies in the area say they haven't seen many nests at all recently, so its hard to tell if their height has changed.
One of the most widespread tales pertains to the Wooly Caterpillar. This black and brown bug has a big furry coat. The story goes, the thickness of the brown stripe on the caterpillar will tell you how harsh the upcoming winter will be. If there is a lot of brown, the winter will be mild. If there is only a narrow strip of brown on their backs, winter is expected to be harsh.
There has actually been some research pertaining to this old wives' tale. Craven County Cooperative Extension agents tell me the coat of the caterpillar does mean something, but it doesn't relate to the upcoming winter. Instead, the coloring is a result of past winters. If last season's winter was harsh the bugs will be mostly black. If it was mild, they will have a lot of brown.