Lady beetles feeding on aphids (photo courtesy of University of Maryland).

Our 2021 webinar series offers a line-up of bug experts who will teach you how to recognize beneficials versus pests, show you how to manage pests safely using non-toxic methods, introduce you to the buggy relationship between plants and insects, and teach you how to build a buggy web of life in your yard using native plants.

About the Webinars

What’s Bugging Your Jersey-Friendly Yard? webinars will be free and provided via WebEx Events. They will be on the second Tuesday of the month from January to June at 7:00 pm. The live sessions will be an hour long with time for questions. To join the webinars, you will need either a computer, tablet, or smartphone with speakers.

After each webinar and with presenter permission, we will add a link to a video recording of the webinar to the Webinar Description section below.

Webinar Descriptions and Registration

You must register to attend. Webinar titles and descriptions are listed below. Register for them individually by clicking on the title of each webinar you wish to join. If you have any questions about the webinar series or how to register, please contact Karen Walzer at

January 12, 2021
Getting to Know the Good Guys: Beneficial Insects in the Landscape
View the recording of this webinar (password: Buggywebinar1).

Not all bugs are bad, so let’s meet the beneficial insects in your backyard. Predators, parasites, and pollinators—learn about how to recognize these good guys, their biology, and how to keep them happy in your yard.
Presenter: Sabrina Tirpak, Principal Laboratory Technician, Rutgers University Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.

February 9, 2021
Myth Busters: The Truth About What’s Bugging You
View the recording of this webinar (password: Buggywebinar2).

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. With over 1 million described species, insects account for about 75% of all animal species. Insect diversity is essential in maintaining functional ecosystems, productive natural areas and working lands, and overall biodiversity. However, human perceptions of insects are often negative resulting in insects being misunderstood, underappreciated, and in some cases, unnecessarily feared. This session will cover a variety of “insect myths vs. truths” with the goal of reversing common misconceptions.
Presenter: Kelly Gill, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Partner Biologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mid-Atlantic / Northeast Region.

March 9, 2021
Cultivating Respect for Insects: An Overview of the Ecosystem Services That Insects Provide
View the recording of this webinar (password: Buggywebinar3).
View and/or download Dr. Dan Duran’s “Highly recommended native plants for the Mid-Atlantic.”

Simply put:  all life on earth depends on insects, for more reasons than most people realize. This talk will explore some of the immeasurably important ways that insects keep ecosystems functioning, including nutrient recycling, pollination services, and trophic interactions. It will also cover ways in which we can conserve much-needed insect diversity in our own yards.
Presenter: Dr. Dan Duran, Assistant Professor, Rowan University Department of Environmental Science.

April 13, 2021
What Lurks Above and Below: Spotted Lanternfly and Crazy Worms
View a recording of the webinar (password: Buggywebinar4).

The invasion has begun!  Two non-native species: spotted lanternfly and Asian crazy-worms have already made it into New Jersey’s agriculture, yards, gardens, and forests. Learn the tools to how you can fight back, including their identification, biology, impacts, research, and control measures. The talk will also include how non-native pests have a serious negative impact on ecosystems and their health.
Presenter: Paul Kurtz, Entomologist, NJ Department of Agriculture

May 11, 2021
Attracting Bees and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants

Most insects have a positive impact in our landscapes. Native plants can be selected to attract specific bees and beneficial insects including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings. Learn about the predator-prey relationships of these flower-visiting beneficial insects and how they help keep problem insect populations in balance. The life cycles, diversity, and nesting habitat of native bees will also be discussed along with examples of native plants for different site conditions.
Presenter: Heather Holm, Author of the books Native Plants for Pollinators and Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide.

June 8, 2021
Ferocious Dragons and Dainty Damsels

This primer to the winged jewels known as dragonflies and damselflies will cover the most common species, their natural history (life cycle, seasonality, what they prey on, and who preys on them), and how to identify one from another.  Sutton, a long-time successful wildlife gardener, will share how to lure these ferocious mosquito predators into your own yard by creating a no-fuss wildlife pond.
Presenter: Pat Sutton, Educator, Naturalist, Author

About the Presenters

Sabrina Tirpak

Sabrina Tirpak is the Principal Laboratory Technician at the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. She received her B.S. in Plant Science from Rutgers University, with an emphasis in horticulture and turf industries, as well as a minor in entomology. Sabrina has over 20 years of experience in all things that can and do go wrong with plants and teaching people about them. She is a frequent lecturer and invited speaker at various conferences and educational programs throughout the tri-state area on the topics of turf, ornamental, and structural insect pest problems. Sabrina is also an instructor in the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School where she teaches laboratory courses in diseases and insect pests of turfgrass and ornamental plants. Sabrina is an avid gardener and animal lover who enjoys growing way too many vegetables, landscaping for birds and wildlife, and spending time with her dogs.

Kelly Gill

As a Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Specialist and a Partner Biologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kelly provides technical assistance on pollinator conservation in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. This work includes planning, designing, installing, and managing habitat for pollinators. Kelly also works with Xerces staff and research partners to develop technical guidelines and provide training on pollinator conservation practices. Kelly completed her Master’s Degree in entomology at Iowa State University.

Dr. Dan Duran

Dr. Daniel P. Duran is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Rowan University as well as the Naturalist for Scotland Run Park, a 1300-acre nature preserve at the edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  He has published research papers on agricultural entomology, biodiversity, and molecular phylogenetics.  Dr. Duran has described ten new species of insects, previously unknown to science.  He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton University in 1998, an M.S. in Entomology from University of Missouri in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Evolution and Ecology from Vanderbilt University in 2010.  In between his degrees, he has also worked for the Natural History Museum, London, UK and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.  Dr. Duran is a co-author of the book A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition.

Paul Kurtz

Paul has been working for the NJ Department of Agriculture for over 21 years as an entomologist. He has supervised large programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle program, NJ Forest Pest Outreach and Survey, and Plum Pox Virus Programs. Recently, he has focused his attention on the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly programs. Paul also writes and executes various federal surveys throughout the state for non-native pests in forests and crops. In 1997-1998, he worked for The Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension as a research technician in the area of crop pests.  Paul has a BS in Biology from Stockton University, BA from Drew University in Sustainable Development, and post-graduate education at Northeastern/Yale School of Forestry in Sustainable Development and Tropical Biology based in Costa Rica. To date he has traveled to 87 countries worldwide.

Heather Holm

Heather is an award-winning author and nationally sought-after speaker spending much of her time passionately educating audiences about the fascinating world of native bees and the native plants that support them. Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, was published in 2014, and her latest book, Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide, published in 2017, has won six book awards including the 2018 American Horticultural Society Book Award. Her latest book, Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity, and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants, became available January 2021. Heather studied horticulture and biology at the University of Guelph and later web programming and digital design at Seneca College, Canada.

Pat Sutton

Pat has keenly studied the natural world for over 40 years, first as the naturalist at the Cape May Point State Park in the 1970s and 1980s and then for 21 years as the naturalist and program director at the Cape May Bird Observatory (1986 to 2007). Pat has an undergraduate degree in Literature and a Masters degree in Environmental Education. She and her husband (Clay Sutton) have written a number of books: Birds and Birding at Cape May (2006), How to Spot Butterflies (1999), How to Spot Hawks & Eagles (1996), and How to Spot an Owl (1994). Today Pat is a free-lance writer, photographer, naturalist, educator, lecturer, and wildlife habitat/conservation gardening champion! She is a passionate wildlife habitat gardener and advocate for butterflies, moths, bees (all pollinators), birds, dragonflies, frogs, toads, and other critters. Pat has taught about wildlife-friendly and native plant gardening for over 30 years. Her own wildlife garden is a “teaching garden” featured in many programs, workshops, and garden tours. For more information, visit Pat and Clay’s website.