With the advent of chemical pesticides, the contributions of beneficial insects (those that prey upon or parasitize crop pests) were largely forgotten. However, pesticides alone have not solved the problem of crop pests—and of course, pesticides can have widespread, harmful impacts.
Conservation biological control (CBC) seeks to integrate beneficial insects back into crop systems for natural pest control. This strategy is based upon ongoing research that now demonstrates a link between the conservation of natural habitat and reduced pest problems on farms.
Xerces has developed a comprehensive guide to habitat planning for beneficial insects that includes overviews of native beneficial insect groups and strategies for implementing conservation biological control, as well as the book Farming with Native Beneficial Insects.
In collaboration with the University of California–Berkeley, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other partners, the Xerces Society is expanding efforts to demonstrate the effectiveness of conservation biological control through field research with academic partners, habitat restoration field trials, and outreach to farm communities and farm agency staff.
In addition, we collaborated with Oregon State University’s IPM Center to develop a brochure called Farming For Pest Management that identifies common conservation biological control opportunities for farmers.
Additional resources are in development and will be available soon. For other information and suggestions on implementing conservation biological control, please visit the links below.
- Attracting beneficial insects with native flowering plants.
Michigan State University Extension
- Flower flies (Syrphidae) and other biological control agents for aphids in vegetable crops.
University of California
- Practical guidelines for establishing, maintaining and assessing the usefulness of insectary plantings in your farm.
Oregon State University
- A pocket guide to common natural enemies to crop and garden pests in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon State University Extension
- Habitat development for beneficial insects for pest management.
- Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)
- Habitat Development for Beneficial Insects
Other Web Resources
- Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control.
- Enhancing beneficial insects with native plants.
Michigan State University
- Biological Control: Approaches and Applications
University of Minnesota
- Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America
- Newest Research on the Value of Habitat for Pest Management
USDA Conservation of Natural Resources Webinar