Sustainable Pest Management

A Halictus Sweat Bee (Halictus poeyi) prepares to land on an Aster next to a Metallic Green Bee (Agapostemon splendens), South Carolina.

Pollinators play a vital role in our farms and gardens, but are often caught in the crosshairs when these areas are managed with herbicides, insecticides and other pesticides. Photo © Clay Bolt

The vast majority of invertebrates serve vitally important roles in a healthy environment, including pest control, pollination, and providing food for other wildlife. Only a very small number of invertebrates are pests. Yet, the pesticides designed to control unwanted plants and animals rarely distinguish between beneficial invertebrates and those which cause harm.  All too often pesticides cause unintended consequences and disrupt the natural systems that sustain us. But, because pesticides are valued for their toxic effects, the risks they pose are often accepted, even when healthier, more sustainable options are available.

As part of the Xerces Society’s conservation efforts we strive to reduce reliance on pesticides by supporting the diverse systems that reduce pest problems. Xerces’ staff is sought after to translate complex science so that farmers, backyard gardeners, agency staff, and policy makers can make informed decisions about pesticide use and regulation. And by providing on-the-ground technical support we are increasing the adoption of ecologically sound pest management practices everywhere.

More specifically our work includes:

      • Training farmers, land managers, and others on ways to use fewer pesticides and mitigate their risks. This includes trainings on how to integrate beneficial insects back into crop systems for natural pest control, a practice known as conservation biological control.
      • Informing home gardeners about how to create healthy habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects.
      • Prompting local, state, and federal agencies to develop science-based policies that reduce pesticide use and help protect pollinators and other invertebrates.
      • Improving how communities respond to mosquitoes to minimize nontarget impacts while effectively managing the risks of mosquito-borne diseases.

We hope the information included here will foster a better understanding of the risks pesticides pose to many ecological systems and provide tools for engaging in pesticide reduction at all levels.

Getting Past Pesticides

Find resources and information associated with pesticide use in these areas:


Farming & Agriculture

The Xerces Society has produced several reports and resources illustrating how to protect pollinators, provide pest management, and reduce or eliminate pesticides on farms and in agricultural settings.

Learn More


Home & Garden

Protecting pollinators from pesticides can start close to home. Learn how to protect pollinators and avoid pesticides in your backyard.

Learn More


Pesticides and Water Quality

Pesticides impact watershed health and contribute to declines in some of our most vulnerable species. Learn about pesticide practices and mosquito management protocols that can protect aquatic life.

Learn More

Take Action!

This map shows local polices that have been adopted to protect pollinators and reduce or ban pesticide used. Do you want your community on the map? Email us details of your local policy or download our draft to introduce pesticide policy to your local government.


Local Policies

There’s a lot that can be accomplished to spur common-sense pesticide policies at the local level, that’s why we’ve provided a model local policy that you can use as a model to introduce pollinator-friendly policy in your community.

State and Tribal Protection Plans

State and Tribal pollinator protection plans are increasingly looked to as a road map for protecting pollinators. Learn more about the overarching issues to consider in developing your own plan.

Take the Pollinator Protection Pledge

Make your yard a pollinator haven by taking the Pollinator Protection Pledge.




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Contact Us

Email us with your questions and comments about pesticides.

Pesticide Learning Center

Use the links below to learn about pesticide impacts and alternatives

IPI Database

Examining the impacts of pesticides on invertebrates, the IPI Database is a collection of summaries of recent research articles reviewed by our pesticide program staff. Most studies are focused on the effects that pesticides have on invertebrates, primarily pollinators and aquatic species. Visit the Database

Neonicotinoids and Bees


Now availaible as a revised and expanded second edition, our report examins the science behind the role these insecticides play in harming bees. Read More

Rethinking Pesticides


Our Fall 2015 issue of Wings is entirely devoted to discussing pesticide-related issues and implications across the landscape.Read More

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