The Elusive Deer-Proof Garden

“No plant is safe from deer under all conditions,” said Marne A. Titchenell, a wildlife program specialist at The Ohio State University. Instead, she recommends a “toolbox approach” of strategies.
“No plant is safe from deer under all conditions,” said Marne A. Titchenell, a wildlife program specialist at The Ohio State University. Instead, she recommends a “toolbox approach” of strategies. Credit…Getty Images

By Margaret Roach – Published by The New York Times sharing information from a colleague Marne Titchenell

The bad news? It doesn’t exist. But there are still plenty of things you can do to deter what some call ‘nuisance wildlife.’

Think of her as a conflict-resolution specialist — except that at least one party in almost every dispute that Marne A. Titchenell of The Ohio State University negotiates is a four-legged, fur-bearing individual stubbornly disinclined to negotiate.

“In the past week alone,” said Ms. Titchenell, whose official title is wildlife program specialist, “I have answered skunk, groundhog, bat, vole, and mole questions. And, of course, ones about deer.”

Ms. Titchenell’s primary professional role is educating Ohioans about wildlife ecology, biology, and habitat management. When she lectures to gardeners, farmers, or the nursery industry, she asks for a show of hands (virtually these days) from the audience when she names challenges they have faced. Then she runs through photos of animals that in backyard or agricultural settings may be referred to as “nuisance wildlife.”

“By the time I get to deer,” she said, “most people raise their hand.” Continue reading

Become a Dandelion Detective and learn about the value of lawns!

Dandelion Detectives is a STEM activity targeting 3-7 graders where participants work together to measure the value of weeds for insects. Dandelion Detectives will take place over the summer of 2021. Participants can be located in Ohio or surrounding midwestern states.

Join Dr. Mary Gardiner, OSU Department of Entomology for a free Dandelion Detectives webinar on May 10th at 7 PM EST

Register Here

Mary will discuss the value of turf habitats for biodiversity and introduce Dandelion Detectives, a youth-focused community science program!

Continue reading

The Bee Short Course for Community Scientists: Building skills of community scientists interested in wild bee conservation.

Free, monthly webinars to build skills of community scientists interested in bee conservation. All sessions are at 10 AM EASTERN on the third Friday of the month, May – November. The same link will allow you to join each session.A collaborative effort from the OSU Department of Entomology, The Chadwick Arboretum, and Learning Gardens, and The US National Native Bee Monitoring Research Coordination Network (RCN).

Registration Link

All sessions are from 10 – 11:00 AM Eastern on the third Friday of the month, May – November 2021

Please note: the focus of this series is wild bee conservation, not honey bee management.

  • May 21: Randy Mitchell, The University of Akron, Bee Botany 101
  • June 18: Jamie Strange, The Ohio State University, Melittology 101: An Intro to Bee Science
  • July 16: Olivia Carril, author, and biologist, Methods of Collecting and Documenting Bees
  • August 20: Heather Holm, author, and biologist, Insect Photography and Using iNaturalist to Observe and Document Wild Bees
  • September 17: Sam Droege, USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Tips and Tricks from The Handy Bee Manual
  • October 15: Mary Gardiner, The Ohio State University, Contributions of Community Science to Entomology: Benefits for People and Nature
  • November 19: Molly Martin, Bee City USA/The Xerces Society, From Community Science to Advocacy in Action: Case Studies in Conservation

Registration now is open for “Forest Ecology” – A DAY in the WOODS program on Friday, May 14

Lookout Rock-Zaleski State Forest
Lookout Rock-Zaleski State Forest

By Dave Apsley, OSU Extension

Forest Ecology will be offered by A DAY in the WOODS on Friday, May 14 from 10 am to noon via Zoom Webinar

Click here to register!

This program will focus on southeast Ohio – our most heavily forested portion of the state located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and part of the greater Appalachian Mountain Ecosystem.  The workshop has two parts – the first will explore the role that our woodlands can have in enhancing our physical and mental health and the second will provide an introduction to the landscape ecology of southeast Ohio.  We hope you can join us as we explore the ecological “zip codes” of southeast Ohio and how we all fit in.

Turfgrass Times: 4-9-2021

Authors  Amy Stone Published on April 16, 2021
Spring Turfgrass ActivityA little bit of a delay from the original video post of last week’s Turfgrass Times, but we wanted to be sure each of you can tune into this recording. It is not too late to hear this valuable turfgrass information. The recording was made on Friday, April 9th, and includes a lot of information from the OSU  turf experts. Contributors include Dr. Ed Nangle; Dr. Pamela Sherratt; Dr. David Gardner; Todd Hicks; and Dr. Dave Shetlar (aka the Bug Doc).

Video highlights include seasonal sports turf tips; weather and weeds and management options; lack of turfgrass diseases with dry conditions; be prepared for turfgrass anthracnose; annual bluegrass weevils; native cranefly larvae noticed in central, Ohio; and pavement ants.

The link for the most recent Turfgrass Times is:

The address of the Turfgrass Research Facility is 2710 North Star Rd, Columbus, OH 43221.  This is the address where turfgrass samples should be sent for diagnostics. For more information about the diagnostic services provided specifically for turfgrass – the cost of the services, and the form needed to accompany the sample, please check out the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic website at:

Wilted Buckeye Leaves May Not Be Freeze Damage

Author Joe Boggs Published on April 22, 2021
Buckeye Petiole Borer

Temperatures have dropped into the dumpster for a second time this spring throughout Ohio.  Of course, it’s spring and it’s Ohio.

Round one turned beautiful magnolia blooms into brown mush in southwest Ohio.  Impacts from this second round are yet to be determined but it’s likely some trees and shrubs suffered frost/freeze damage that will eventually be revealed with symptoms ranging from blasted flowers to wilted, blackened leaves, to twig dieback.

However, feeding damage by the buckeye petiole borer (Zeiraphera claypoleana, family Tortricidae) produces symptoms that are a dead ringer for frost/freeze damage.  Wilted leaves on buckeyes (Aesculus spp.) deserve a close look.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Dave Shetlar (OSU Entomology, Professor Emeritus) shared images of the caterpillars in buckeye petioles in central Ohio during our BYGL Zoom Inservice on Tuesday morning.  Curtis Young (OSU Extension, Van Wert County) showed images of the symptoms on buckeyes in northwest Ohio and I’m finding damage on wild understory buckeyes in the southwest part of the state.

We’ve noted in past BYGL Alerts that the moth appears to prefer small understory trees growing in wooded areas along streams.  I’ve rarely seen damage on mature trees or trees in landscapes.  Although the literature notes this native moth is specific to Ohio buckeye (A. glabra), I’ve also observed petiole borer activity on yellow buckeye (A. flava).

Petiole Borer Detection

As their common name indicates, the caterpillars tunnel within leaf petioles to feed on vascular tissues.  The damage causes leaves to rapidly droop, wilt, and turn dark green to black.  Damaged leaves eventually detach producing mild defoliation.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Buckeye Petiole Borer

I’ve never found more than one caterpillar per petiole even where populations are high.  Look closely for a slight swelling of the petiole on wilted leaves.  There may be a small hole exuding granular-like frass (insect excrement).  This indicates there is a caterpillar actively feeding within the petiole.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Buckeye Petiole Borer

A clean hole in the petiole indicates the caterpillar has completed its development and exited to pupate in the soil.  Slicing open the petiole will reveal a short, empty chamber.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Trees usually only suffer a few damaged leaves.  The hit-or-miss nature of the wilted leaves provides good evidence that it’s not frost/freeze injury.  Damage by this borer may appear conspicuous; however, the caterpillars seldom cause enough leaf loss to affect the overall health of infested trees.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

On the other hand, earlier this week, I found and photographed a caterpillar boring into the tender new terminal growth on a small understory tree in southwest Ohio.  I’ve never seen or heard of this type of damage.  However, damage to main stems represents a potentially more serious impact compared to the loss of a nominal number of leaves.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Buckeye Petiole Borer

There are two generations in Ohio with the first generation coming to an end in the southern part of the state.  The vast majority of the petioles I inspected earlier this week were empty with only a few petioles and the aforementioned main stem containing mature caterpillars.


There are no chemical control recommendations given that the damage is usually confined to wild buckeyes growing in wood lots and leaf loss from the petiole borer is seldom significant.  However, I’ve seen localized populations gradually increase over successive years to eventually produce very noticeable symptoms with the damage caused by the second generation becoming more severe.

Buckeye Petiole Borer

Hand-removal of infested leaves can reduce localized petiole borer populations.  The first step is to make certain the petioles actually contain caterpillars; a clean hole means the caterpillar has vacated the premises!  Removing first-generation caterpillars will decrease damaged caused by the second generation later this spring and the removal of second-generation caterpillars will help to deplete the overall population.

The second step is to destroy the caterpillar within the infested leaves and stomping is highly effective.  Thus far, no populations have become resistant to this control method.

Dealing with the Modern Day Bambi

From Marne Titchenell, OSU Extension, Wildlife Specialist

This evening I had the pleasure of speaking with some residents of Butler County about managing deer in urban and rural areas. There is no question that deer are one of the species that I get the most questions about. White-tailed deer are very comfortable living among us, whether we live in rural or urban Ohio. The webinar I gave will be posted here if you would like to watch it.

In the presentation, I discussed a number of management options from repellents to scare tactics to modifying the attractant (usual food) to hunting. Throughout the presentation, I referenced several publications and sources of additional information. You can find them all below. Enjoy and good luck with all your Bambi encounters! Continue reading

Recording and resources now available for “Native trees and shrubs for wildlife”

“Native trees and shrubs for wildlife”  was offered via Zoom Webinar on March 12, 2021. This program focused on the food provided by native trees and shrubs for Ohio’s many species of wildlife.  Below is the video of this program, a copy of the presentation materials, and a related web link.

Featured presenters include Ryan Boyer (District Biologist IN, MI, OH; National Wild Turkey Federation), Marne Titchenell (Wildlife Program Specialist, OSU Extension), and Dave Apsley (Natural Resources Specialist, OSU Extension).

Topics covered included:

  • Types of food provided by trees and shrubs for wildlife
  • Seasonality and nutritional value of food (mast) produced by trees and shrubs
  • Importance of providing a diverse mix of native, woody plant species
  • Methods you can employ in your woodlands to enhance the production of the mast and other wildlife benefits
  • Resources available help you to enhance these habitat elements in your woods

Additional Resources

PDF – A Day in the Woods- Native Trees and Shrubs for Wildlife (Final)

National Wild Turkey Federation – Manage Your Property – website

Ohio Woodland Stewards website