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 May 29th - register soon!

For lunch, please bring your own (or travel to nearby venue) and a refillable water bottle.

Canceled registrations can be refunded until May 26th, 2017.


Monday, June 5th, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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West Tennessee Research & Education Center
605 Airways Blvd
Jackson, TN 38301

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 Friday, May 26th.

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 the Tennessee NRCS for their help in coordinating this event and to Bob Hayes and the University of Tennessee for their assistance in hosting 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.

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

West Tennessee Research & Education Center
Jackson, Tennessee
Monday, June 5th, 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 Thelma Heidel-Baker, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, and Nancy Adamson, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, 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

 Module 2 -  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

Module 3 - 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

Lunch - please bring your own (or travel to nearby venue) and a refillable water bottle.

Module 4 - 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)

Guest Speaker - Conservation Biocontrol Research and Use in IPM in Tennessee
     Dr Scott Stewart, Professor of Entomology, University of Tennessee

Guest Speaker -  USDA Farm Bill Programs to Support Beneficial Insects
Matt Walker, State Resource Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Tennessee)


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

Field Exercise

  • Using the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Form and Guide
  • Overview of Beneficial Insect Monitoring Guide

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


Thelma Heidel-Baker, PhD, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, Xerces Society, Random Lake, WI
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.

Nancy Lee Adamson, PhD, Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist, East Region, Xerces Society and USDA NRCS, East National Technology Support Center, Greensboro, NC
Nancy supports pollinator and other agriculturally beneficial insect conservation with Farm Bill Programs. She teaches about native bees, other wildlife, and native plants that are vital to our natural and cultivated landscapes. Nancy received her PhD in entomology from Virginia Tech where she studied native bee crop pollinators.


Scott Stewart, PhD, Professor of Entomology, IPM Specialist and Coordinator, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee Extension
Dr. Stewart is the leader of UT Extension’s insect pest management programs for field crops including cotton, corn, soybean, sorghum, wheat and pasture. Common duties include developing and presenting educational IPM programs, publishing pest control publications and related information (including on-line resources), preparing newsletters and articles related to IPM. Scott also performs applied research to support these Extension efforts including the evaluation of insecticide efficacy, GMO technologies, and other IPM tactics. He frequently cooperates regionally and nationally in educational and applied research efforts and actively participates in professional societies including the Entomological Society of America.

Matt Walker, State Resource Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Tennessee)
Matt received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Murray State University and a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Mississippi State University. He worked for both the Kentucky and Montana state wildlife agencies before starting his career with NRCS. While working for NRCS, Matt has served as District Conservationist, Area Biologist, State Biologist, Area Conservationist, and is currently the Tennessee State Resource Conservationist. He oversees the Ecological Sciences Staff, which provides statewide leadership for conservation planning and science.