What does Woodchuck Day mean to WNY gardeners?

woodchuck and shadow
Original photo courtesy Brett Marshall, Sault College, Bugwood.org

by Connie Oswald Stofko

When will spring get here?

We’re supposed to find out on Thursday, Feb. 2: Groundhog Day. Maybe we should call it Woodchuck Day because we call these animals woodchucks.

If the groundhog or woodchuck doesn’t see its shadow, that’s supposed to mean we get an early spring. So for an early spring, we want overcast weather on Thursday.

But if it’s sunny and the groundhog does see its shadow, that means winter will linger for six more weeks, ending on March 16.

Whoa! Winter ending on March 16? That would be amazing!

Either way, the woodchuck is on our side.

Unless, of course, you have a woodchuck in your garden.

One Western New York gardener watched as woodchucks decimated her dahlias. “You could see the woodchucks slapping the stems down and eating all the leaves,” she said.

They can damage trees and shrubs, and mounds of dirt left from digging their burrows can be a headache for gardeners.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to manage woodchucks. In this previous article, you can see what options exist.

But no matter what, woodchucks bring spring to us, right? So there’s that.

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