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.
Successful pollinator habitat provides resources for the entire life-cycle. While pollen and nectar sources support adult bees and butterflies, you need to also provide adequate nesting habitat if you want pollinators to live in your landscape rather than just pass through. There are many ways to provide nesting resources through natural and man-made features or simply by changing land management practices. Below is an overview of the nesting needs of bees and butterflies.
Neonicotinoid insecticides are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. While they were initially introduced as less harmful than older insecticides, research has now shown their devastating ecological impacts. Neonicotinoids are very toxic to pollinators, beneficial insects, and aquatic invertebrates. Their widespread use, combined with their water solubility, means that they are now often found in water and soil samples throughout the country. The Xerces Society is working to reduce the use of neonicotinoids in both agricultural and urban areas.
Pesticides contaminate our natural ecosystems, whether they are directly applied to forests and waters, or inadvertently move beyond where they are applied. Prevention-based, proactive pest control techniques, whether it be in forest management or mosquito abatement, can provide long-term, conservation-minded solutions to pests. The Xerces Society has assembled the science behind effective management strategies to help decision-makers, communities, and land managers weave conservation into their management decisions.