Japanese beetle with winsome fly eggs

How to deal with Japanese beetles in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s the time of year when Western New York gardeners may be finding Japanese beetles in their gardens. If you have Japanese beetles, you will see them; they’re easy to spot. About half an inch long, they’re big enough to see, plus their coloration catches your eye. They are green and copper, and they’re shiney. The damage they do may catch your eye as well. They feed on rose petals— and on about 300 other kinds…

DEC staff member wearing protective equipment next to adult giant hogweed plant.

Good news & bad news with giant hogweed in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko The bad news: Giant hogweed is a nasty invasive plant that can cause severe burns on your skin if you touch it. The good news: In many areas of New York State, giant hogweed has been eradicated. The bad news: Western New York has the most giant hogweed in the state. The good news: If giant hogweed is on your property, you can get advice on what you should do. Even better, staff from the Department…

other path at Jen Weber's gardens

Nothing like an outdoor wedding to jumpstart a backyard makeover

by Connie Oswald Stofko Jen and Joe Weber moved their family into their new home three years ago. When they got there, they found that the previous owners had planted bishop’s weed (also called goutweed), a nasty, very aggressive plant that spreads easily and is hard to get rid of. The bishop’s weed is still there, stretching 66 feet along one side of the house. Other projects, such as fixing “the path to nowhere,” haven’t been started yet, either, and…

trees with white pine needle disease

Look now for tree disease & tree stress

Spring is a good time to check your trees for any signs of stress or disease, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). If you have questions about your trees, email photos and location information to foresthealth@dec.ny.gov or you may contact the Forest Health Diagnostic Lab at 1-866-640-0652. Tree diseases Oak wilt  Don’t prune oak trees in spring! This is the time when insects that spread the oak wilt fungus are on the move. Because of recent oak…

box tree moth

Invasive moths are damaging boxwoods in parts of WNY: what you should do

by Connie Oswald Stofko The box tree moth, an invasive pest that can damage and even kill a boxwood shrub within weeks, has been identified in Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties. This pest can spread; the moths are highly mobile and are good fliers. Anyone with boxwoods in Western New York should watch now for the caterpillar stage of the box tree moth (Buxus species). The caterpillar feeds almost exclusively on boxwood shrubs. The caterpillars are ravenous feeders, and heavy infestations…

bear in Batavia backyard

Bear sighted in Batavia; what to do if you see one

by Connie Oswald Stofko A bear was spotted walking through a resident’s yard in Batavia last week. You can see the resident’s video here. This isn’t the first sighting of bears in populated areas of Western New York. I wrote about bears that were seen in Cheektowaga and Lancaster (suburbs of Buffalo) in 2020. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said then that they had begun to see a rise in reported sightings of black bears in…

fawn in tall grass

Baby wildlife: If you care, leave them there

Every year, people scoop up young wild animals thinking the animals are orphaned or neglected. They take the young animals to a wildlife rehabilitator, or worse, attempt to raise the young animals themselves. In many cases, this is unnecessary or even harmful, according to this page from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The most common young animals to be mistakenly “kidnapped” by humans are fawns, cottontail rabbits and fledgling birds. It’s important to understand the normal behavior for these…

forsythia in bloom

Stop weeds now, plus more on how forsythia rules our gardens

by Connie Oswald Stofko Wait until the forsythia blooms. That’s a rule of thumb for many gardening tasks in Western New York. For example, you shouldn’t prune your roses until you see forsythia blooming in your neighborhood, according to this tip from the the Western New York Rose Society. The forsythias are blooming now, or will bloom soon, in Western New York. “This is when the soil is warming up and things are popping up outside,” said David Clark, CNLP, who was honored…

lesser celandine in Amherst NY

Lesser celandine: spread the word about this horrible plant in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko Gardeners in Western New York have the opportunity to address the problem of lesser celandine. That’s because lesser celandine is right in our own backyards. Or front yards. Or the lawns and gardens of our neighbors. If you don’t know what lesser celandine is, read on. And if you are already familiar with this invasive plant, please tell others. Tip: Our weather has been warm, and lesser celandine may be coming up sooner than it has…

garden where ash trees used to be in Hamburg NY

Hamburg gardener lost 50 ash trees; see how she coped

by Connie Oswald Stofko When Carol and Rick Stumpf bought an empty lot for their home 30 years ago, ash trees were already established. A house and gardens followed and the Stumpfs enjoyed their landscape. “It was all shaded back here,” Carol said. “I had all my beds how I wanted them.” She gazed longingly around her huge backyard, remembering how it used to be before her mature ash trees–and many others across Western New York– were killed by emerald…