Beetle banks are linear strips of perennial native bunch grasses that provide overwintering shelter for predatory ground beetles, spiders, and other beneficial invertebrates. These grassy strips are sometimes interplanted with native wildflowers to increase plant diversity and support pollinators and other beneficial insects that consume pollen and/or nectar. Beetle banks are planted within or adjacent to crop fields to promote movement of predators into the crops. When beetle banks are present on farms, natural predators have more opportunities to colonize crop fields and regulate crop pests.
The use of beetle banks as a conservation practice originated in Great Britain, where they are now a common method to regulate grain pests such as aphids and blossom midges. In the United States, beetle banks are increasingly being adopted in the Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest, and elsewhere, in a wide variety of cropping systems including large-scale grain crops and vegetable production. Overall, beetle banks are a great tool to support beneficial insects, pollinators, and other wildlife on farms, especially when existing shelter and floral resources are limited.
This fact sheet provides information on planning, locating, and installing beetle banks in the Upper Midwest, including recommended grasses and flowers that can be planted.