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.

Registration closes Tuesday, June 6th - register early!

Please bring a sack lunch - lunch will not be provided. 

Canceled registrations can be refunded until June 6th, 2017.


Tuesday June 13th, 2017
9:30 AM to 4:00 PM EDT

Add to Calendar


Philip Merrill Environmental Education Center 
6 Herndon Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21403

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, June 2nd, 2017.

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


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the Northeast 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, and Xerces Society members.


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

Philip Merrill Environmental Education Center
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Annapolis, MD
Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
9:30 am - 4:00 pm Eastern

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 Kelly Gill, Pollinator Conservation 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).
  • 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) 
  • Others TBD


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 -  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 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 - 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

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)
  • Farm case studies

Module 6 – USDA Practices and Programs for Beneficial Insect Conservation - Steve Strano - State Biologist

  • Overview of USDA-NRCS conservation practices for beneficial insects
  • Overview of USDA-NRCS incentives programs for beneficial insects

Module 7 - Q&A, additional resources, and course evaluations 


Kelly Gill – Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Region
Kelly is the Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions for The Xerces Society and a partner biologist with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Kelly’s position provides technical support for planning, installing, and managing habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects. A Pennsylvania native, Kelly completed her Master’s Degree in Entomology at Iowa State University. There, she conducted small plot and farm scale research, collaborating with organic and conventional farmers, on the development of best practices for conserving beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes.


Steve Strano - State Biologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Annapolis, Maryland 
Steve is currently employed as the NRCS State Biologist in Maryland, a position he has held for eleven years. He previously worked for eight years as a soil conservationist on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Southern Maryland. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies from Stockton College, and a Master’s of Science in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park. As the NRCS State Biologist, he develops technical guidance, and provides technical assistance and oversight for wildlife habitat and wetland restoration projects implemented through USDA Farm Bill conservation programs. While having statewide responsibilities, he also manages the implementation of many wetland and habitat restoration projects on private lands.