bat illustration

Bat update: hopeful news for one species, work continues

by Connie Oswald Stofko Bat populations have suffered devasting declines for more than a decade, with a disease called white-nose syndrome playing a role. There still isn’t a treatment for bats suffering from white-nose syndrome, though a collaborative effort is working on it. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Department of Health are partnering with researchers from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and experts at universities across the country….

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…

red admiral butterfly

Citizen scientists: Help with BioBlitz on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

by Connie Oswald Stofko Be a citizen scientist and help the Pollinator Conservation Association with its BioBlitz through Dec. 1 on the Outer Harbor in Buffalo. Help to discover and identify flora and fauna there to improve conservation planning for future projects. The area includes Times Beach, Tifft Nature Preserve, the Union Ship Canal, and all of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation land and State Park land on the Outer Harbor. You can post pictures and observations on INaturalist.org….

montage for early autumn

Six timely reminders for your early autumn garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here are some topics from previous issues that may answer a question that has come up for you recently, or may act as a timely reminder. Have you had houseplants outside for the summer? Here is information on how to get rid of bugs before you bring your plants inside. If you want a delightful springtime show of blossoms, plant bulbs now. Find suggestions here on what perennials to plant around tulips to hide the dying…

pussy willow

Advantages of willows that don’t weep, plus more from Master Gardeners

When you think of a willow, you probably think of a weeping willow (Salix babylonica), which originated in China. But if you want butterflies in your garden, you might want to choose native varieties of willow– they support at least 455 species of butterfly larva. Find out more reasons to plant native willows in the article Willows That Don’t Weep by Lynn Chimera. It’s one of the latest articles published in WNY Gardening Matters by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative…

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…