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eastern cicada killer compared to Asian giant hornet

Is that a murder hornet in WNY or just a lookalike? How you can tell

by Connie Oswald Stofko Note: See a newer article posted on June 7, 2022 here. As of that writing, there still aren’t any murder hornets anywhere in Western New York. Readers have contacted me because they felt sure they had seen the dangerous Asian giant hornet, also called the murder hornet, here in Western New York. I encouraged those folks to report it, and they probably did. Yet there haven’t been any verified sightings of murder hornets anywhere in New…

canna lily in Amherst NY

What plants do you overwinter in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Canna lilies are tall, impressive plants that I’ve long admired in Western New York gardens. So when I visited the Master Gardener plant sale in Buffalo this spring and saw a whole area with cannas, I toyed with the idea of actually buying one. When a helpful Master Gardener explained the different varieties, I admitted I was hesitant to buy a canna lily because I’m a lazy gardener. I know you have to bring in the…

sparrow at birdfeeder in Western New York

Put your birdfeeders back up; birds no longer getting sick

by Connie Oswald Stofko Although the cause of the mysterious illness that was killing songbirds this summer is still a mystery, birds are no longer getting sick. You can put your birdfeeders and bird baths back up, according to an updated statement on All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To try to prevent the spread of the illness, home gardeners were asked to take down birdfeeders and bird baths so birds wouldn’t congregate there. The cause of…

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens entrance in summer

Botanical Gardens is hiring for 2 spots

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is hiring for two positions. If you want to work at the beautiful and historic Botanical Gardens– or know someone who does– check out the summaries of the positions below. See details on both positions here. Visitor Services Associate (Part Time, Seasonal)  Welcome visitors from all over the world. Work with a dynamic team to make a friendly and lasting impression on all the visitors and learn a lot about plants. Visitor Service Associates also work in the…

ripe and unripe cherry tomatoes in Buffalo NY by Stofko

Reminder: you can ripen tomatoes inside

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you’re worried about damage to your tomatoes from late blight, frost or squirrels, pick your tomatoes when they’re green and bring them inside. The flavor and color is similar to that of a tomato ripened in the field, according to Cornell University. See all the details in this previous article. Late blight Late blight, which affects tomatoes and potatoes, hasn’t yet been identified in Western New York yet this year, but it has been seen…

autumn leaves in Letchworth State Park by Stofko

Sept. 22 is first day of autumn; leaves beginning color change in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko The official start of autumn is tomorrow and the Chautauqua-Allegheny region is beginning to show fall color, according the most recent Fall Foliage Report produced by ILoveNY.com. Reports are issued every Wednesday afternoon, so tomorrow’s report may reflect more Western New York areas where the leaves are beginning to change color. The reports signal when leaf color is just beginning to change, at the midpoint, at near peak, at peak and past peak. Caterpillar damage If leaves on your…

New England asters

Asters, slimey goo & more in WNY Gardening Matters

Check out the articles in the latest edition of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. “The Beauty of Fall Asters: Native asters come in blues, purples, rose, pinks and white. Besides being beautiful, they are a very important late-season food source for pollinators, butterflies and insects. Ambush Bugs and Assassin Bugs: These two bugs got their names because of the way they kill their prey. Nostoc: What’s slimey, disgusting and gooey?…

flower on common milkweed in Amherst NY

For butterflies & fragrance, choose common milkweed!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you like butterflies, you probably have a kind of milkweed called butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa). You may even have swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix. Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant! Dan Murak pointed out the fragrance this summer when I visited his landscape, which was shared on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. Another thing I like about common milkweed is that…

egg mass on boxwood leaf

Bad news for boxwood: box tree moth has arrived in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko An invasive moth that damages and can kill boxwoods has arrived in Western New York. The box tree moth has been identified in Niagara County, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. My sister in Cheektowaga has noticed damage to boxwoods in her area. That was probably caused by the box tree moth, too, Farfaglia said. This invasive pest “is expected to spread,” he said. If you haven’t seen it in…

illustration of sparrow eating lettuce and kale

Help a reader: birds eating lettuce

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Just wondering if anyone else has had sparrows eating their lettuce, Swiss chard or other greens. I planted a second crop fairly recently in planters and the sparrows act as if they are at a salad bar. They aren’t eating the seeds, just the leaves, picked them to pieces! I’ve just recently covered them with old windows that I use for cold frames and am hoping this stops them. I…

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