As we brace ourselves for the Cicadapocalypse, Pineconepalooza seems to have taken us all by surprise.

If your yard now resembles a prickly crime scene, rest assured, you're not alone. Communities nationwide have been noticing an unusually abundant bumper crop of one beloved crafting staple: pinecones.

Pinecones in Yard in a Mast Year
Getty Images

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From mountains in Michigan to mounds in Missouri and heaps in New Hampshire, amateur gardeners and backyard frequenters are asking, "What's up with all the pinecones?"

What's a Mast Year and Why Are We Having One?

Turns out that this plentiful pinecone phenomenon may be due in part to what is called a "mast year." The Brooklyn Botanical Garden provides a pretty simple explanation of what this means (thank goodness) and it goes a little something like this:

Certain tree species drop big ol' dumps of seeds at the same time called "masting" and even scientists who know what they are talking about are a bit perplexed by it.

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How do you know if it's a mast year? Well, look around. If you see a lot more pinecones and acorns in your yard (remember Squirrelpocalypse a few years ago?) then we are likely in a mast year.

Squirrel Loves Pinecones

Can Squirrels Cause a Bumper Crop of Pinecones?

There's some debate on why we're currently experiencing a mast year. 101.5 WPDH's Boris in Poughkeepsie points out that squirrels are high on the suspect list for this year's mast situation—kind of: "There's a school of thought that says trees will overproduce seed pods in an effort to outsmart larger-than-usual predator populations."

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So Now It's Trees vs. Squirrels?

Like many things seemingly popping up lately, it might also have a strange connection to the pandemic. How? Fewer people driving during the pandemic lockdowns meant fewer squirrels going splat on the roads, meaning more squirrels which led to the trees going into production overdrive and now they are all, "Come and get 'em!"

There's quite a bit of drama unfolding right in your own backyard, and you might not have even realized it.

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