photo illustration of squirrels in apple tree

Help a reader: squirrels eating apples

by Connie Oswald Stofko I received this question from a reader: Hello, we have two semi-dwarf apple trees in our yard. I think an entire colony of squirrels have been eating apples on the tree. Any ideas to stop them would be appreciated. Kara StimsonOlean I haven’t experienced this problem, but maybe you have. How did you deal with this problem? Any suggestions? Please leave a comment below! Get more gardening tips See more questions & answers here. Find helpful articles…

purple loosestrife

Why are we again seeing purple loosestrife in WNY?

After not seeing purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in Western New York for many years, you may have noticed it making a comeback. This invasive plant used to be common until certain insects were released to control it, according to an article by Lyn Chimera in the most recent edition of WNY Gardening Matters. The insects were effective and loosestrife declined. But when the number of loosestrife plants declined, the number of insects also declined. This led to the return of…

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 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 York State. Why? Because the Asian giant hornet has many lookalike species, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). See lookalikes here….

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…

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?…

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…

squirrel closeup for featured image by Stofko

Squirrel tips:How to keep them from digging up your potted plants in WNY

by Connie Oswald Stofko We’re getting into the time when squirrels start to store acorns for the winter. I don’t mind when the squirrels stash their hoard in my lawn, but I do object when they dig up a container that holds perennials. Here’s a tip from Lyn Chimera of Lessons from Nature: To keep squirrels and chipmunks from digging up potted plants, cover the top of the soil with a layer of pea gravel after the container is planted….

caterpillar of gypsy moth

Did caterpillars eat leaves on your tree? What you can do now

Do you have trees in your yard that were defoliated during the gypsy moth caterpillar outbreak this year? Here’s what you need to know. Outlook for your tree Most healthy trees can withstand a couple years of leaf loss from caterpillar damage, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Long-term damage depends on the type of tree as well as how much defoliation took place. Hardwoods  A healthy leaf-bearing tree should have grown new leaves by now, though leaves…

Spigelia marilandica or Indian pink

A cool perennial & more from WNY Gardening Matters

Master Gardener Lyn Chimera introduces us to a perennial with a pretty red and yellow flower called Spigelia marilandica or Indian pink in the newest edition of WNY Gardening Matters. While not native to Western New York, Indian pink is native to the southern United States. “This is a wonderful, unusual and pest-free plant,” Chimera wrote. “Hummingbirds love it, deer don‘t and it’s beautiful too!” It also attracts hummingbirds. “What’s not to like?” she wrote. See the whole article here….