Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

This edition was written by Emily May, Aimée Code, Mace Vaughan, and Sara Morris. It is based on previous editions written by Eric Lee-Mäder (2008) and Nancy Lee Adamson (2012). All authors are with the Xerces Society.

Organic agriculture generally supports higher biodiversity than conventional management, and organic farms can play an important role in protecting and supporting bees and other beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes. Many organic operations already have good numbers of wild bees, as well as predators and parasitoids that attack crop pests. These beneficial species may provide most or all necessary crop pollination and pest control services when adequate habitat is available and preventive non-chemical pest management practices are implemented.

Unfortunately, however, even pesticides allowed for use in organic agriculture can cause harm to bees and other beneficial insects. There are many considerations when choosing between different pesticide options, including efficacy, specificity, cost, and risks to human health and the environment. This guide provides a brief overview of how to select and apply pesticides for organic farm operations while minimizing pollinator mortality. Many of the practices outlined here for protecting pollinators also can help to protect beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps and flies; predaceous wasps, flies, and beetles; ambush and assassin bugs; lacewings; and others. The presence of these insects can further reduce pest pressure and the need for chemical treatments.

Related document: Common Organic-Allowed Pesticides: A Comparative Overview.

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Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects: Guidelines for Conservation Biological Control

By Jennifer Hopwood, Eric Lee-Mäder, Lora Morandin, Mace Vaughan, Claire Kremen, Jessa Kay Cruz, Jim Eckberg, Sarah Foltz-Jordan, Kelly Gill, Thelma Heidel-Baker, and Sara Morris.

Beneficial insects are integral to healthy agricultural ecosystems and to our environment. Around the world, these wild insects prey upon and parasitize crop pests, recycle excess nutrients, aerate and improve soil quality, and support other wildlife in vast food chains.

This publication outlines the ecology of many native beneficial insect groups and highlights recommended strategies for conservation biological control—the practice of providing habitat for insects that attack crop pests. While native predator and parasitoid insects alone may not solve all of a producer’s pest problems, they can be an important part of an Integrated Pest Management system and contribute to reduced need for pesticides over time.

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On Design: Handkerchief Hems

Morris, Sara. knit.wear, Spring 2013

There’s more than one way to knit a draping, flowing hem.

Digital Edition

“Etymology and Primary Terminology of Greco-Roman Vestment”

Morris, Sara. TD&T Journal, Vol. 42 No. 3 (Summer 2006): 44

We call them togas, tunics, and chitons, but some of the words we use for ancient garments might never have been spoken by the Romans or the Greeks.

Coming soon: (eventually, anyway)

Re-evaluating Roman Damask (WIP)

Textiles of Roman Pompeii (WIP)

The Principles Handspinning Flax (WIP)

Processing Shetland (WIP)

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