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Northwest yard and garden

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Good bugs vs. bad bugs
Yard Talk: dirt simple tips for natural yard care

Episode 13: "good bugs vs. bad bugs"

Greg and Doug at the Kruckeberg Botanical Garden
Greg and Doug enjoying the wide variety of pollinator attracting plants at the Kruckeberg Botanical Garden.

A bumblebee bumbling around on a blue ceanothus blossum
This bumblebee is loading up on pollen from a ceanothus bloom.

A native banana slug...a good guy!
Although many slugs are garden pests, this native banana slug is a helpful addition to the garden. Know your pest before you control.

Blooming false Solomon's seal
False Solomon's seal is a lovely pollinator attracting plant for gardens.

Encouraging bugs in balance

  • Avoid using insecticides. These kill the good bugs along with the bad and the bad populations rebound faster than the predators.
  • Avoid using electric bug zappers. They primarily kill beneficial insects.
  • Most beneficial insects need pollen and nectar at some point in their life cycle. Plant lots of flowering plants.
  • Birds are great insect hunters. Think of bugs as bird food. Create bird habitat (Episode 9, Backyard Wildlife).
  • Familiarity reduces fear. Learn what is flying and crawling in your yard and appreciate them. Just because it can sting or bite, doesn’t mean it will.
  • Tolerate some plant damage. That leaf munching larva of today may be the butterfly of tomorrow.
  • Replace or shrink your lawn with a variety of native plants.
  • Crane flies are very rarely a problem. Leave them for the birds and solve your lawn's health problems through natural lawn care. (Episode 3, Natural lawn care)

Greg's tips & tricks

How to build a mason bee condo.

Doug’s designs

Doug recommends ceanothus, catmint, lavender, false Solomon’s seal and red flowing current for attracting beneficial insects


Todd Murray, Washington State University King County Extension educator, talks about beneficial insects.

Marianne Binetti, famous gardening expert and author, on earth friendly ways to control aphids, slugs (the bad kind), and cabbage moths.

Show resources

Kruckeburg Botanical Garden*

Washington State University King County Extension*

Marianne Binetti*

Xerces society* - Lots of invertebrate information including how to build mason bee and bumblebee houses.

Native Plant Landscaping Guide

Seattle Tilth’s Garden hotline*

*External link.

Please Note: This list of resources is provided by King County as a courtesy to the public and does not endorse or guarantee the quality of the service offered or provided.

Check schedule for air times.

Yard Talk is brought to you by KCTV and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

For questions about this web page, please contact Greg Rabourn, Community Stewardship Specialist, Water and Land Resources Division.