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 16th - register soon!

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

Canceled registrations can be refunded until May 16th, 2017.


Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio State University
1680 Madison Avenue
Wooster, OH 44691 

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 16th.

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 (NCR-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 Dr. Kelley Tilmon for help in coordinating this training event and to the Ohio State University OARDC for providing the 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

Fisher Auditorium
The Ohio State University 
Wooster, OH
Tuesday, May 23rd, 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 as she overviews 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

Guest Speaker -  Dr. Mary Gardiner, Associate Professor of Entomology, Ohio State University

Module 4 - Assessing Baseline Farm Conditions for Beneficial Insects

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

Lunch - Please bring a sack lunch!

Module 5 - 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 -  USDA Farm Bill Programs to Support Beneficial Insects - Bryan Lee, Ohio NRCS 

Field Activity

  • 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. She and her husband manage an organic dairy farm in eastern Wisconsin where she promotes beneficial insects of all kinds.


Dr. Mary Gardiner, Associate Professor of Entomology, Ohio State University
Mary received her PhD from Michigan State University in 2008 and established the Agricultural Landscape Ecology Laboratory (ALE Lab) as an Assistant Professor in 2009.  The ALE Lab is interested in understanding how the design and management of an urban greenspace or agroecosystem influences food web structure and function. They are particularly interested in understanding mechanisms that explain the biodiversity-ecosystem function patterns found within these habitats. The goal with this research is to advance the sustainability of food production and urban ecosystem management. They are also actively engaged in outreach related to enhancing home landscapes, greenspaces and small-scale farms as habitats for beneficial arthropods and work with the public to survey lady beetle populations across the state annually. Mary also teaches two graduate courses: Insect Ecology and Evolutionary Processes and Presentation Skills for Scientists.

Bryan Lee , Archaeologist/Cultural Resources Specialist, USDA-NRCS
Bryan Lee is the Archaeologist/Cultural Resources Specialist for Ohio NRCS. Bryan has worked for NRCS for more than 16 years throughout several states, giving him the position to gain professional knowledge of agriculture in different settings.  Working in mountainous areas where grazing is important, to urban areas where high tunnel and specialty crop production is growing, Bryan has acquired knowledge of different styles of production in all types of regions.  He also has an interest in organic production.  With his wife’s direction using native plants and trees they are creating as much diversity as possible in returning unused areas of their small farm back to natural habitat.  Bryan lives in central Ohio.