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To promote beneficial insects such as the fritillary butterfly, whose chrysalis is seen here, wait until the spring to cut back old vegetation. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun
To promote beneficial insects such as the fritillary butterfly, whose chrysalis is seen here, wait until the spring to cut back old vegetation. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun (Ellen Nibali / HANDOUT)

I was getting ready to cut down my red raspberries (they finally finished fruiting!), and I saw these on the leaves. One had bronze studs and the other one had silver! I found out they are fritillary butterfly chrysalises. What do I do now?

Many beneficial insects overwinter attached to old vegetation, such as stalks and fallen leaves. In the case of red raspberries, simply cut them back in the spring.

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Cuttings can be hidden behind a shrub or put on a brush pile to let insects finish their life cycle. Likewise, leave any healthy stalks in perennial beds, etc. Try to find uses for as many fallen leaves as you can as mulch or compost, so they can stay on your property. This helps keep up your beneficial insect populations, instead of killing them each fall.

Do I leave or remove straw over newly planted grass seed?

Leave it. The straw will decompose over the winter and add organic matter and nutrients to the lawn’s soil. Any method to remove the straw runs the risk of tearing up your new grass seedlings, which don’t have many roots yet.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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