Short Course Partner

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 Conservation Biological Control Toolkit and a copy of Farming with Native Beneficial Insects.

Canceled registrations can be refunded until August 14th, 2015.


Friday, August 21, 2015 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM CST
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Iowa State University
Field Extension Education Lab
1928 240th St.
Boone, IA 50036


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 Tuesday, June 12th, 2015. 

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 the Iowa State University Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) staff for providing the venue for this event.

Photo Credits

Header: Lady beetle eating aphids, photograph courtesy of Adam Varenhorst. 
Sidebar: Syrphid fly, photograph courtesy of Adam Varenhorst.

 Conservation Biological Control
Short Course

ISU – Field extension education lab
Boone, Iowa
Friday, August 21, 2015
9:00 am - 4:00 pm CST

Learn how to attract beneficial insects to farms and orchards
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.

Short Course Training Skills & Objectives

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 Xerces' book, Farming with Native Beneficial Insects, as well as habitat installation guidelines and other relevant publications.

*Continuing Education Credits Available*

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

Course Agenda


Module 1 – Farming with Beneficial Insects: Conservation Biological Control 
  • Overview of conservation biological control and IPM
  • Conservation status of beneficial insects
  • Case studies of conservation biological control inaction
Module 2 – Common Beneficial Insect Groups 
  • Introduction to common beneficial insect groups
  • Overview of beneficial insect biology and identification
Module 3 – Farm Practices for Beneficial Insects 
  • Farm practices to support beneficial insects
  • Mitigating pesticide risks to beneficial insects
  • Protecting overwintering and nesting sites

GUEST SPEAKER – Matt O’Neal, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University
  • Native, perennial and attractive: Best practices for conserving beneficial insects.

Lunch - Bring a sack lunch

Module 4 – Assessing Baseline Farm Conditions for Beneficial Insects 

  • Introduction to the Beneficial Insect Habitat Asses sment Form and Guide to inform pollinator conservation planning
Module 5 – Designing and Restoring Habitat for Beneficial Insects 
  • Strategies for incorporating habitat on farms
  • Site preparation and planting techniques for native wildflowers and woody plants
  • Farm case studies
Field Tour 
  • Using the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Form and Guide
  • Field observation of beneficial insects and plants
  • USDA programs and practices for pollinator conservation (NRCS staff)
Module 6 – Wrap Up
  • Additional Resources
  • Questions
  • Evaluations
  • Raffle


Thelma Heidel-Baker – IPM Specialist, The 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.


Matt O’Neal – Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University

Matt O'Neal is an associate professor of entomology at Iowa State University, Matt’s research focuses on the management of insect pests of annual crops, with a focus on soybeans. His overall goal is the development of pest management programs that are economically and environmentally sustainable. To achieve this goal, he explores the ecology of pests with their host-plant and natural enemies, often within a landscape context. More recently, his research is exploring how conservation methods may improve the abundance and diversity of beneficial insects that contribute to aphid mortality and crop pollination.

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