seed packet

If you get seeds in the mail from China that you didn’t order, don’t plant them

If you get seeds in the mail from China or other countries that you didn’t order, don’t open the seed packet and don’t plant the seeds. Consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union have been getting unsolicited packets of seeds from China and other countries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is investigating. At this point, it seems this is a “brushing scam,” where online sellers create fake orders to…

Asian longhorned beetle in pool

Look for signs of two invasive dangers to trees in WNY

Western New Yorkers should watch for signs of oak wilt and Asian longhorned beetles (ALB), two invasive dangers to trees. Neither has been found yet in Western New York, but if either is here, early detection could help stop the spread. You might also begin to notice tar spot, which is common on maples here. It’s ugly, but doesn’t damage the tree. Oak wilt Oak wilt disease is a fungal disease that affects both red and white oaks, but red…

stages of Gypsy moth

Insect damage? It might be gypsy moth caterpillar or fourlined plant bug

by Connie Oswald Stofko You may have seen damage to your plants recently and not known what was causing the damage. Here are two possibilities: gypsy moth caterpillar and fourlined plant bug. The worst is over for this year, but you should be on the lookout for them next year. Below is some general information on Gypsy moth caterpillars and fourlined plant bugs. If you have more questions about damage to plants or if you want an identification of an…

Japanese beetle

Check your plants now for Japanese beetles

“We are getting reports from some gardeners that Japanese beetles are showing up now,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County. The Japanese beetle, which is native to Japan, is a highly destructive plant pest here. In Japan, natural predators keep the population in check. Hand picking works well in small gardens but must be repeated frequently, Farfaglia said. Neem oil is also an option for control. See more details in our previous article here. Also…

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…