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 Beneficial Insects Toolkit and a copy of Farming With Native Beneficial Insects.

Registration closes on August 3rd - register soon!

For lunch, please bring your own and a refillable water bottle.

Canceled registrations can be refunded until August 3rd, 2017.


Thursday, August 10th, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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NRCS Brooksville Plant Mateials Center
14119 Broad Street
Brooksville, FL 34601

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 Thursday, August 3rd, 2017.

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


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the Southern 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 Florida NRCS for their help in coordinating this event and providing the course venue.

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.

 Farming With Beneficial Insects
for Pest Control:
Conservation Biological Control Short Course

NRCS Brooksville Plant Materials Center
Brooksville, Florida
August 10th, 2017
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

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

Learn about supporting beneficial insects that provide pest control in this full-day short course. 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 pesticides. Join Xerces Society's Nancy Lee Adamson, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, and guest speakers as they overview conservation biological control and beneficial predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests. Participants will learn how common farm practices can impact beneficial insects and how to assess and create farm habitat for beneficial insects.

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).
  • Become familiar with the most common beneficial insect groups.
  • 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 (TBD) 
  • 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 conservaGon biocontrol case studies

Field Activities 

  • Habitat assessment for beneficial insects
  • Scouting for beneficial insects 

Module 2 - 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 3 - Common Beneficial Insect Groups

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

          Lunch - please bring your own sack lunch and a refillable water bottle

Module 4 - Farm Practices for Beneficial Insects

  • Overview of common farm practices and their impact on conservation biocontrol
  • Mitigating potential negative impacts of farm practices on beneficial insects

Module 5 - Conservation Biocontrol Research in Florida - Dr. Hugh Smith

  • Overview of current issues and conservation biological control research in Tennessee
  • Farm case studies

Module 6 – Designing and Restoring Habitat for Beneficial Insects

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

Module 7 USDA Farm Bill Programs Supporting Beneficial Insects (Speaker TBD)

  • USDA Conservation Programs and Practices supporting pollinators, other beneficial insects, and other wildlife conservation

Additional Resources and Wrap-Up

  • Questions & Evaluations
  • Raffle



Thelma Heidel-Baker, PhD, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, Xerces Society, Random Lake, Wisconsin
Thelma is the insect pest management specialist for the Xerces Society, with extensive experience in biological control and integrated pest management (IPM). She provides nationwide support for farming with reduced risks to beneficial insect. Thelma received her Ph.D. in entomology from University of Minnesota where she studied the role of beneficial insects in soybean IPM.


Dr. Hugh Smith
Dr. Hugh Smith has been the Vegetable Entomologist at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center near Tampa since 2011. Hugh received his MS and PhD in entomology from the University of Florida in the 1990s.  He has carried out pest management research and developed farmer outreach programs for conventional and organic vegetable producers on California’s Central Coast, the Guatemalan highlands and islands in the Pacific, as well as Florida.