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,…

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…

boxelder bug

Don’t worry if you find boxelder bugs in your house; they’re harmless

Have boxelder bugs taken shelter in your home this fall? If so, don’t worry. They are native and won’t harm you, your house or plants. Boxelder bugs don’t bite or sting, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They aren’t attracted to food the way ants are. They become inactive when the weather turns cold enough. In addition, the boxelder bug doesn’t significantly damage the trees it feeds on, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. The…

Halloween bat

Bats: spooky creatures or garden helpers?

It’s Bat Week, time to raise awareness about the important role bats play in our environment and our gardens. What you might not know about bats All of New York State’s bats eat insects. A single little brown myotis bat can consume 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour! The bat is the only mammal that can truly fly. (Flying squirrels glide, but don’t fly.) Bats are extremely long lived, compared to mammals of similar size. The oldest documented one was…

bumble bee on goldenrod by Stofko

Identify and help native bees in your garden

Did you know that the native bumble bee is more effective than honey bees at pollinating crops such as tomatoes? That’s just one reason gardeners should care about native bees, according to the Wild Bee ID. Another reason gardeners should care about native bees is that pollinator populations have been declining at alarming rates all across the continent, primarily due to habitat loss and pesticide poisoning.  The makers of the Wild Bee ID app hope that gardeners in North America…

tri-colored bumble bee

Help scientists track native pollinators

You can contribute to the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey to help scientists see which native pollinators are common and which may be declining. Native pollinators play an important role in the pollination of flowering plants, including native plants, wildflowers, garden plants and cultivated crops. The survey is targeting native bees, flies, beetles and moths. The Participant Handbook describes different ways you can participate. One of the ways is as a photographer. You don’t need a fancy camera, and you don’t even have…

image for 2019 Pollinator House competition

Design & build a pollinator house, enter new competition

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Garden Walk Buffalo, the Buffalo Architecture Foundation has partnered with Gardens Buffalo Niagara to launch the 2019 Pollinator House Design-Build Competition. This unique design-build competition encourages participants to submit a functional, contemporary pollinator house. The houses will be displayed during Garden Walk Buffalo and then auctioned off to support the programs of both Gardens Buffalo Niagara and the Buffalo Architecture Foundation. The competition seeks to bring awareness to the wide array of pollinators in Western New…

monarch caterpillar

Help scientists through Caterpillars Count!

Due to climate change, the growing season in Western New York starts earlier than it did in the past. Are caterpillars and birds emerging earlier as well? Caterpillars Count!, a citizen science project, could use your help to find out if plants, insects and birds are all responding to ongoing changes in climate to the same degree. You can participate by counting arthropods such as caterpillars, beetles and spiders through Wild Spirit Education, located at 11511 Bixby Hill Rd., Delevan. You can also count…

side garden on Ken-Ton night

Lighting gives yards ambiance during Night Lights in Ken-Ton

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jim Aichinger and Tim Kuntz’s gardens are lovely during the day. “But when the lights come on, oh, it’s wonderful back here,” said Kuntz. They shared their Cornwall Avenue landscape during the Night Lights portion of the Ken-Ton Garden Tour on Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. The daytime portion was held Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19. The front as well as the back is lit 365 days a year, Aichinger said, with…

dog and cat with halo from Goodman's Farm Market in Niagara Falls

Animal lovers: Show your feelings with statues & markers for your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko One marker says “Dog crossing” and another announces “I love my cat.” For gardeners who don’t want to take sides, there’s a marker that says “Bless all the creatures of the garden.” Express your feelings for whatever animal has stolen your heart with garden ornaments from Goodman’s Farm Market, 2227 Cayuga Dr. Ext., Niagara Falls. Maybe your dog joins you in your garden, creating holes in places where you need them, or more likely, where you don’t need them. You can…