Take the”Big Picture”View in the Yard and Garden

Beneficial Insects – Not All Bugs are Bad

Many insects are beneficial. Some pollinate our flowers and vegetables, and many others feed on the pests in our garden. This segment demonstrates a good habitat for caterpillars that will help beautify your garden.








Your yard and gardens make up a system when put together. With that in mind, today we’ll learn about small but important part; insects. And then we will see the importance of maintenance throughout the system, throughout the year. We will will start with beneficial insect, an important tool in pest management.Okay, let’s get to learning!

Video link;  (a transcript is included at  the bottom of the page)


Autumn Gardening





General landscape

*Remove weeds before they go to seed.

*Clean up garden areas to reduce insect and disease problems.

*Enrich soil by adding organic matter (peat moss or compost).

*Gather soil samples for testing; adjust PH levels as recommended.

*Start a compost pile with fallen leaves; turn the pile to hasten breakdown.

*Around Thanksgiving, give everything a good watering (unless ground is frozen).

*Take advantage of fall sales to update your landscape.

*Update your garden journal while successes and failures are fresh in your mind.

Vegetables and Fruits

*Plant spinach, lettuce and radishes for fall feasting.

*Plant garlic for spring harvest.

*Harvest apples, pears and peanuts.

*Remove fallen fruit from the ground to prevent disease and insect damage.

*Dig sweet potatoes, cure for a week or two in a warm spot, store for winter.


*Plant spring-flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, and others) in the fall before the ground freezes. Add phosphorus-rich bone meal to the bottom of each planting hole.

*Dig and divide peonies, daylilies and iris. Share some with friends.

*Divide overgrown perennials, especially spring bloomers.

*Remove seed heads from perennials to prevent reseeding; leave some (such as coneflower seeds) to feed birds and add interest to your fall garden.

*Dig tender bulbs (cannas, gladioli, elephant ears) then store in a cool, dry place over winter.

Water Gardens

*Divide water iris, reeds and rushes.

*Net pond for falling autumn leaves.

*Remove vertical tropical plants from pond before first frost.

Trees and Shrubs

*Plant trees and shrubs; keep watered during dry winter months.

*Rake fallen leaves; compost them, or mow them into shreds to use as garden mulch.

*Pick bagworms by hand; place them in tightly sealed bags and discard.

*Prune broken, dead or diseased branches.

*To ensure bloom, avoid pruning spring-flowering shrubs such as lilac and forsythia.

*Once leaves have fallen, transplant small trees and shrubs.


*Renovate cool-season turfgrass by core-aerating or verticutting

*Overseed tall fescue lawns with 5 to 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet.

*Fertilize cool-season grasses with slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer (one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet

*Mow turf at 2-3 inches, using a sharp blade for a clean cut.



*Wash plants carefully before bringing indoors.

*Plant bulbs in pots to force indoor winter blooms.

*Reduce or stop fertilizer over winter months.


Beneficial Insects – Not All Bugs are Bad

In our Finney County extension demonstration and research garden, we have various types of plants for the public. And, some of those that you’ll often find in a garden are those that reseed. These volunteer plants provide some interest within the landscape.
I’ve had numerous youth and adults that come to the extension office and ask, “What are those insects?” that are on a particular plant. So, I like to step out and explain that in the insect world, we have those that are desirable insects that we like to promote because of their beauty and their beneficial uses in the landscape.

One of the butterflies that we find occasionally is the black swallowtail butterfly. It feeds on some of these plants. Here, we have a bronze or a purple fennel that we planted last year. It reseeded, and you can see how dense and thick the growth is underneath. But, the plant will also bear flowers the second year of its growth. Here we see the seed heads that have come up.

It’s in this particular type of growth that the swallowtail will come in and lay their eggs. Here, is a great example of that caterpillar. The larvae feeding on the plant is very colorful and striking. It raises the interest of the young people when they come through our demonstration garden.

Plus, it’s an opportunity to tell them that we let it grow like this so that we can have a teaching moment – to show them that “yes,” we don’t like to have pesty insects in the garden. But, they’re not all pests if we look at them from an educational value, but also beneficial to our beautiful world around us.

This feature story prepared with Dean Whitehill, Kansas State University Research and Extension Agent, Retired, Finney County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.

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