Beneficial nematodes, or parasitic and predatory nematode worms, are environmentally friendly natural parasites of insects pests but do not harm plants or other animals. They are an effective, non-chemical control method of many soil-dwelling insect pests. Introducing nematodes into your garden controls pests without the use of pesticides for natural pest control in the garden.
Nematodes are part of the roundworm family, and are very commonly found in moist soils. You may already have this type of nematode living in your garden, but in lower levels than a nematode treatment would contain. These nematodes are called “beneficial” or entomopathogenic and are completely harmless to humans, animals, and non-target pests. They live in the soil, and have a complicated life cycle. The “dauer” third larval stage is the infective stage, and the nematodes will enter their host through any body opening they can find or even through the insects exoskeleton. The nematodes release bacteria that kill the insect in a few days. The nematodes actually eat the bacteria, and the bacteria are attacking the host; the bacteria are the primary agents responsible for killing the insect host.
When you apply nematodes to your yard or garden, you will introduce a very high number of these nematodes to the system. Eventually, if the treatment works successfully, all or almost all of the target insects will die, eliminating the hosts for the nematodes and the high populations of nematodes will also be diminished.
Beneficial nematodes are used for many soil dwelling pests, including white grubs (from Japanese beetle, oriental beetle, chafer beetle, and June beetle larvae), cutworms, sod webworms, pillbugs, many borers, and some caterpillars. Doing research on the pest you want to get rid of will help you to determine if you can use nematodes in your pest control regimen.
Since nematodes are living organisms, transporting and storing them can be difficult and delicate. There are several things you need to know when using this type of pest control. As with any do-it-yourself pest control project, always read the label for instructions, warnings, and safety precautions.
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