How Insects Predict the Weather

Insects, Spiders, and Other "Creepy-Crawlies" That Forecast Weather

August 15, 2019
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Wikimedia Commons

Next time you see an insect, spider, or other “creepy-crawly,” check out what it’s doing! It could let you know something about the upcoming weather. Check out our weather proverbs and folklore about insects and other creatures.

Insect Weather Folklore

Observe ants, bees, fireflies, and other insects, and you’ll see that they give us cues about upcoming weather, too! Here is folklore from the Almanac archives:

  • If ants their walls do frequently build, rain will from the clouds be spilled.
  • Ants are busy, gnats bite, crickets sing louder than usual, and flies gather in houses just before rain.
  • When bees to distance wing their flight, days are warm and skies are bright; But when their flight ends near their home, stormy weather is sure to come.
  • Fireflies in great numbers indicate fair weather.
  • When hornets build their nests near the ground, expect a cold and early winter.
  • When cicadas are heard, dry weather will follow, and frost will come in six weeks.

Crickets’ Chirps

The more quickly crickets chirp, the warmer the temperature.

This actually isn’t folklore! Crickets’ chirps are proven to be a measure of temperature. The equation for calculating the temperature (in Fahrenheit) from cricket chirps involves counting the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then adding 40. The resulting number is the approximate outside temperature. Read more about predicting weather with cricket chirps!

Spider Folklore

Observe spiders and their webs closely to gauge weather.

  • When spiders’ webs in air do fly, the spell will soon be very dry.
  • When spiderwebs are wet with dew that soon dries, expect a fine day.
  • Spiderwebs floating at autumn sunset; bring a night frost, on this you may bet.
  • Spiders move down from their webs before rain.

The Woolly Worms’ Bands

Certainly, many of you may have heard of the woolly bear caterpillar’s ability to forecast winter weather. These caterpillars have black and brown bands; according to folklore, more black than brown indicates a harsh, cold winter, while more brown than black points to a mild winter. Read more about woolly worms!

Reptiles & Amphibians

Observe reptiles and amphibians as weather predictors, too! 

  • The louder the frogs, the more the rain.
  • Frogs singing in the evening indicates fair weather the next day.
  • Hang up a snakeskin and it will bring rain.

More Weather Folklore

See how birds predict the weather.

Cows, sheep, cats, and mammals have their cues, too. Learn about how other animals predict weather.

Did we miss any? Share your favorite proverbs and sayings below!

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Reader Comments

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Rain indicator

A ring around the moon means rain is coming soon.
Also, for partial moon phases, if the moon were a bowl on an angle that liquid would pour out of it means rain is coming the following day.

Hornets

"When hornets build their nests near the ground, expect a cold and early winter." This comment is incorrect. When hornets build near the ground it will be a mild winter. When they build high it means a hard, snowy winter. I have seen this happen many years in areas that aren't sprayed consistently. In some of our snowiest winters I have seen very large nests built very high in trees.

Minor corrections.

"When bees to distance wing their flight, days are warm and skies are bright; But when their flight ends near their come, stormy weather is sure to come."

Pretty sure that should be(e) "But when their flight ends near their HOME".

Also, frogs are amphibians, not reptiles. Snakes, lizards, crocodilians, turtles and tortoises, and a few rarer critters are reptiles.

coming rain

My granny always said when the backs of the leaves on the trees begin to show, it's a sure-fire sign of rain.

Insects and weather

Here in the Midwest I was taught that count 90 days from the first cicadas will be our first frost.

weather

If it thunders before 7;00 (am) it will rain before 11:00

WEATHER

The way I heard this one was, "Rain before 7:00, clear by 11:00.

Rain

If it rains the first Sunday in June, it will rain every Sunday in the month.

leaves on trees

I was always told that if the leaves on the trees seem to turn backwards a storm was coming.

Peepers

Is there some saying about peepers; hearing them three times before the warm weather stays ? I can't remember just how it goes.

peepers in spring

I have always gone by the rule that a frost between hearing them three times,that spring has sprung.

The fog days of August count

The fog days of August count the days if snow, the thicker the fog the deeper the snow

The thicker the the trees bark come fall the colder winter will be felt by all

Birds nest during the rain the sooner it will pass but birds flying about in the rain the longer it will be

A rain before 7 will be gone

A rain before 7 will be gone by 11

When turtles cross the road,

When turtles cross the road, it will rain the next day. The more turtles seen, the harder the rain.

When the dew is on the grass,

When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.