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 $25 per person. Course registration includes the Xerces Society's Beneficial Insects Toolkit and a copy of Farming With Native Beneficial Insects.

Special thanks to the Montana NRCS for providing one copy of Farming With Nativve Beneifical Insects for each course participant.

Priority given to those who register by June 11th - register soon!

Lunch will not be provided, please bring a bagged lunch to the course.

Canceled registrations can be refunded until June 11th, 2018


Tuesday, June 19th, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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Leon Community Clubhouse
35964 Leon Rd
Charlo, MT  59824

Driving Directions 


Liz Robertson
The Xerces Society 
503-232-6639 ex. 120

Reasonable Accomodations

The Xerces Society provides reasonable accommodations for special events with adequate notice.  To request accommodation for events, please contact by June 11, 2018. 

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


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Special thanks to USDA NRCS in Montana and the Lake County Conservation District for course support, including purchasing one copy of Farming With Native Beneficial Insects for each course participant.

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

Leon Community Clubhouse
Charlo, MT
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
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 Thelma Heidel-Baker, Conservation Biocontrol Specialist at the Xerces Society, 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*

  • Pesticide Applicator (**pending approval**)
  • Certified Crop Advisor (5.5 CEUs) 
  • 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


Guest Speaker: Conservation Biocontrol Research in Montana - Dr. Subodh, Adhikari

  • Learn the latest about ongoing research to support beneficial insects in Montana

Module 3 - 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)

Lunch Break:  Lunch will not be provided, please bring a bagged lunch to the course.

Module 4 - 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

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 Activities and Presentations

  • Conservation Biocontrol Research in Colorado
  • Habitat assessment for beneficial insects

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


Thelma Heidel-Baker – Conservation Biocontrol Specialist, The Xerces Society  
Thelma Heidel-Baker is the conservation biological control specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. In this position, she provides technical support and expertise on developing best management practices and creating habitat for conserving benficial insects in farming landscapes across the U.S.  Thelma has over 15 years of extensive research experience in biological control and integrated pest managment (IPM) in agricultural cropping systems.  She holds graduate degrees in entomology, specializing in biological control, from Purdue University and the University of Minnesota.  Based out of southeastern Wisconsin, she also actively incoporporates insect conservation practices into her family's organic dairy farm.


Dr. Subodh Adhikari is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Idaho and Washington State University. He conducts research looking at the effects of diversified cropping systems on beneficial and pestiferous organisms. He obtained his MS, conducting research on tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum)- insect interactions in tallgrass prairies at Wichita State University, Kansas in 2013 (May) and finished his PhD from Montana State University in 2018(January), assessing beneficial insects such as wild native bees, ground beetles, and specialist parasitoids of wheat stem sawflies at the semi-arid agroecosystems of Montana. He is particularly interested doing research and outreach activities on critical issues related to the ecology and management of beneficial organisms within agricultural landscapes as well as on biodiversity-based ecosystem services at field and landscape level.

Ben Montgomery is the District Conservationist based out of Ronan, MT for the USDA NRCS.