Intended Audience

The content of this course is tailored to the needs of farmers, NRCS, SWCD, Cooperative Extension, and state department of agriculture employees, as well as crop consultants, natural resource specialists,  and non-governmental conservation organization staff.


Registration is $45 per person. Course registration includes the Xerces Society's Pollinator Conservation Toolkit and a copy of Farming With Native Beneficial Insects.

Please plan to bring a sack lunch and a refillable water bottle!

Canceled registrations can be refunded until June 1st, 2016.


Monday, July 25, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM EDT
Add to Calendar


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
3700 E. Gull Lake Dr.
Kellogg Biological Station Academic Building
Hickory Corners, MI 49060

Driving Directions 


Jillian Vento
The Xerces Society 

Reasonable Accomodations

The Xerces Society provides reasonable accommodations for special events with adequate notice.  To request accommodation for events, please contact by Monday, July 4th, 2016.

The USDA and the Xerces Society are equal-opportunity providers and employers.


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Additional support for this training is provided by the Audrey and J.J. Martindale Foundation, Cascadian Farm, Ceres Trust, CS Fund, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, General Mills, the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation, Turner Foundation, Inc., Whole Foods Market and its vendors, Whole Systems Foundation, and Xerces Society members. 

Special thanks to Kellogg Biological Station for providing the venue and for help in coordinating this event.

About The Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The Society's Pollinator Conservation Program was launched in 1996, and works with leading native pollinator ecologists to translate the latest research findings into on-the-ground conservation. More information about the Xerces Society is available at

Photo Credits

Header: Syrphid fly, by Adam Varenhorst. Sidebar: field observation of pollinators and plants, Anne Averille, University of Massachusetts.

 Conservation Biological Control
Short Course

Kellogg Biological Station 
Academic Building
Hickory Corners, MI
Monday, July 25th, 2016
9:00 am - 4:30 pm EDT

Learn a science-based strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects for natural pest control!

Beneficial insects contribute to natural pest suppression and potentially save $4.5 billion annually in pesticide costs. Yet the contribution of insects that prey upon or parasitize crop pests is largely overlooked. Conservation biological control is a science-based pest management strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects back into cropping systems for natural pest control, ultimately reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for insecticides. This strategy is based upon ongoing research that continues to demonstrate a link between the conservation of natural habitat and reduced pest problems on farms, orchards, and gardens.

In response to growing interest in promoting beneficial insects for their pest control services on farms, the Xerces Society has authored the book Farming With Native Beneficial Insects and developed the Conservation Biological Control Short Course to educate farmers, agriculture employees, natural resource specialists, land managers, and conservation organization staff.


This workshop will cover: 

  • The importance of beneficial insects - predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests.
  • Overview of conservation biological control and integrated pest management (IPM).
  • How to identify beneficial insects and distinguish them from other insects.
  • How to recognize the habitat needs of beneficial insects and identify habitat deficiencies.
  • The design and implementation of habitat improvements, including site preparation, insectary strip plantings, hedgerows, beetle banks, and more.
  • The current best management practices that minimize land-use impacts on beneficial insects and mitigate exposure to insecticides.
  • How to access USDA conservation programs for financial and technical support.

Participants will receive the Xerces Society's Conservation Biological Control Toolkit which includes habitat installation guidelines and other relevant publications, and the Xerces' book, Farming with Native Beneficial Insects.

 *Continuing Education Credits Available*

  • Certified Crop Advisor (6 CEUs) 
  • Society of American Foresters (5 CFE credits)
  • The Wildlife Society (5.5 contact hours)   


Welcome and Announcements 

Module 1 - Farming with Beneficial Insects: Conservation Biological Control (CBC)

  • Overview of conservation biological control and integrated pest management
  • Status of beneficial insect conservation
  • Summary of conservation biocontrol case studies

Module 2 - Common Beneficial Insect Groups

  • Introduction to beneficial insects and the ecological services they provide
  • Overview of beneficial insect groups (predators and parasitoids)
  • Summary of beneficial insect biology and habitat needs
  • Profiles of common predators and parasitoids and the insect pests they attack

Module 3 - Designing and Restoring Habitat for Beneficial Insects

  • Conservation practices that support beneficial insects (e.g. beetle banks, buffers and windbreaks, cover crops, field borders, hedgerows, insectary strips, wildflower meadows, and more)
  • Habitat conservation methods (e.g. site preparation, propagation, and maintenance)
  • Farm case studies


Module 4 -  Farm Practices for Beneficial Insects

  • Supporting beneficial insects with farm practices
  • Preventing potential negative impacts of conventional and organic-approved pesticides on beneficial 
    insects (e.g. exposure pathways, toxicity, residual activity)
  • Mitigating pesticide risks to beneficial insects and other natural resources using IPM, PAMS, and 
    conservation practices (e.g. alternatives to pesticides, pesticide drift reduction, buffer practices)
  • Protecting overwintering and nesting sites

Lunch - Please bring a sack lunch!  

Field Activity
Small groups rotate through the following activities:

  • Practice using habitat assessment tool and form in the field
  • Develop recommendations for habitat enhancements, IPM, management practices, etc. based on assessment results
  • Scout different habitat types for beneficial insects
  • Discuss beneficial insects and their habitat associations observed in real-life, field conditions

Guest Speaker–Rufus Isaacs, Professor & Extension Specialist, Dept of Entomology, Michigan State University

  •  Conservation Biocontrol Research in Michigan

Module 5 - Assessing Baseline Farm Conditions for Beneficial Insects

  • Overview of habitat diversity values
  • Introduction to the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Guide to Inform CBC Planning

Module 6 – Q&A, additional resources, and course evaluations 


Thelma Heidel Baker – IPM Specialist, Xerces Society  
Thelma Heidel-Baker is the IPM Specialist for the Xerces Society. She has extensive experience working on biological control and IPM in agricultural cropping systems. Based out of eastern Wisconsin, Thelma provides support to farmers, agencies, and Xerces staff for developing pest management programs with reduced risks to beneficial insects. She also develops technical materials used by farmers, crop consultants, and university extension to recommend best management practices for conserving beneficial insects in pest management. Thelma received her Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Minnesota where she conducted research on improving IPM of the soybean aphid. 


Rufus Isaacs, Professor & Extension Specialist, Dept of Entomology, Michigan State University