black bear courtesy Bugwood

Bears seen locally; don’t attract them to your garden

Earlier this month, a black bear was spotted in Cheektowaga, and before that, in Lancaster. “We have recently begun to see a rise in reported sightings of black bears in suburban and urban areas,” said Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  There are steps gardeners can take to help make sure they’re not inviting bears into their gardens. Background on bears In June, black bear movement increases as the breeding season begins and yearlings…

jumping worm Amynthas

Take part in Invasive Species Challenge; focus is on 4 species

Be a citizen scientist by participating in the NY iMapInvasives team’s 5th Annual Invasive Species Mapping Challenge from June 24 – July 8. Four species will be the focus of this year’s challenge:  Jumping worm Tree of heaven Water chestnut European frogbit You can help map the distributions of these species.  An introductory webinar will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 24. The webinar will cover the identification of these species and how you can participate. Visit iMap’s website for more information…

lawn in yard using permaculture

This Grand Island landscape is suburban in front, natural in back

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s like visiting a home out in the country–depending on what side of the house you’re on. In front, the home of Denise and Don Freedman has a typical suburban landscape. In back, it’s more natural, with fruit trees, a rain garden and trees that were there when they bought the land. They’ve been using permaculture techniques before they ever heard that word. What does permaculture mean to them? “It’s using your land to your advantage,”…

Asian giant hornet

Don’t worry– no ‘murder hornets’ in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko “I hope people aren’t afraid,” said Kathleen Goodman, a Master Gardener volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. She was wrapping up her presentation on Asian giant hornets, which have gotten the nickname “murder hornets.” That nickname grabs people’s attention, but it stirs up fear, too. “I just want people to know what’s going on,” Goodman said. Goodman gave the presentation on Asian giant hornets last week as part of Garden Fence Chats, an online…

lilies and red lily leaf beetle

Could these simple tricks keep away red lily leaf beetles?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Recently a couple of readers have shared ways to keep red lily leaf beetles from eating their plants. Could these things really work? I asked John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, what he thought of the suggestions. Bottom line: there are no studies on whether these methods work, but they shouldn’t hurt, either. Diatomaceous earth for red lily leaf beetles Susan Baker said that last year she had lily leaf beetles on…

lesser celandine in yard

Kill lesser celandine before it flowers; look for it now

by Connie Oswald Stofko Don’t wait until you see the pretty yellow flowers. Look for lesser celandine and get rid of it now. If you want to use an herbicide, you must do it now before the plant flowers. Why you should get rid of lesser celandine If you’re not careful, lesser celandine can spread until you have no grass or other plants in your lawn. Even worse, it can spread into wild areas and wreak havoc there. Lesser celandine…

red lily leaf beetle by

Start to check for red lily leaf beetle in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this message from Tess in Binghamton: “Red lily beetles have arrived early! Picked a dozen of them out of the flower bed today, March 20, 2020, in Binghamton NY area!!” It’s not too early to start looking for them in Western New York, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County “They do show up early, as soon as the foliage breaks ground,” Farfaglia said. In past years, “I’ve gotten calls…

opossum on a deck

Opossums are more common than you think, but not a garden problem

by Connie Oswald Stofko I recently got this question from a reader: Hi Connie! Over here on Maynard, I just saw a possum. Is this something new for Eggertsville? Ellyn K. Demler Since I also live in this part of Amherst, this question was especially interesting to me. A few weeks ago, I saw a deer across the street from my house–the first I had seen in my neighborhood in 30 years–and now we have opossums? I called John Farfaglia,…

slender false brome

Invasive grass & more news from Master Gardeners

An invasive plant that has been identified in Genesee County and may be other parts of Western New York is slender false brome, according to an article in the latest issue of WNY Gardening Matters, published by the Master Gardeners of Erie County. Because slender false brome looks so much like other grasses, it may be undetected in other counties. See more about the plant in this article by Lisa Marie Gee. Other articles in this issue are: Find out…

deer in backyard

Don’t feed deer: It’s bad for them, bad for people & illegal!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you feed deer in your backyard or at a park, you could be harming them instead of helping them. Bringing deer together at feeding sites increases their risk of contracting communicable diseases, such as chronic wasting disease, from other deer. That’s why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prohibited deer feeding anywhere in New York State back in 2002. Recently the DEC adopted a new regulation to provide a clearer definition of what…