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GRANDMA SAYS: Of wasps and winter

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Cindy Day's Grandma would not be amused! Helen Wickwire-Foster came across this wasp nest in Halifax, N.S. She says it was a good 10 feet off the ground. - Contributed

In less than a week, it will officially be astronomical autumn and we all know what follows.

I guess that’s why so many people have been asking me if we’re going to get a lot of snow this winter.

I will deal with that question later this week. In the meantime, here are Grandma’s thoughts:

A fall stroll gave Grandma some insight into how much snow we could expect through the coming winter. Every year, sometime between Labour Day and Thanksgiving, Grandma would walk in the house with a big smile on her face and a winter snowfall prediction: she had obviously just come across a hornet’s nest.

Many old-timers believe that, if hornets build their nests high off the ground, it’s going to be a snowy winter, but, if those nests are close to or on the ground, there will be little or no snow.

Because so many people believe this to be true, I did all that I could to find some scientific explanation, but no such luck!

I can, however, explain why some people find nests high in the trees while others find them on the ground in the same area during the same season.

There are many different types of hornets. For example, the term “yellow jackets” refers to a number of different species of wasps. These wasps are ground nesting wasps, regardless of the weather. You’ll find their nests in rotted tree stumps, rodent burrows or even holes in the foundation of an old shed. Then there is a group of aerial-nesting yellow jackets. They build their paper nests on the eaves of a building or hanging from the limb of a tree.

While I couldn’t find a link between location of a wasp’s nest and the weather for the coming winter, I did find a weather connection. When it comes to building the nest, current weather is a big factor in the wasps’ choice of location. Warm, dry weather is ideal, so if you live in a rural area during summer don’t be surprised to see a wasp colony under your front porch.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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