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Beneficial Nematodes - Steinernema
Beneficial Nematodes - Steinernema
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BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF SOIL DWELLING PEST INSECTS WITH NEMATODES. Nematodes are microscopic, non-segmented worms which occur naturally in soil all over the world. Thousands of strains exist with different life-styles. Beneficial nematodes only attack soil dwelling insects and leave plants alone. The nematodes enter the host through body openings or by penetration of the body wall. Once inside, they release a bacterium which kills the host within 48 hours. The nematodes continues to reproduce and its offspring begin to seek out new host material. Beneficial nematodes are a totally safe biological control parasitic insect organism. The Beneficial nematodes are so safe the EPA has waived the registration requirements for application.

Nematodes Guide

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Nematodes are most effective against Beetles, Grubs, Weevils, and many other target pests in lawn and garden. They burrow down in the soil to a depth of 7" looking for deep soil- dwelling pests. Target pests include:Cucumber Beetle, Grubs, Gall midge, Strawberry Rootweevil, May/June Beetle, Masked Chafer, Cranberry Rootworm, Flea, Scarab and Japanese beetles, Straw- berry Root and Black-vine Weevils, Webworms, Billbugs, Cutworms, Tobacco Budworm, Termite, Rice Weevil, Meal Moth, Squash Bugs, Pine Beetles, Field Cricket, Mormon Cricket, Cabbage Worm, Leaf Hopper, Earworms, Strawberry Root Weevil, Loopers, Gypsy Moth, Oriental Fruit Moth, Army Worms, Chafer, White Grub, Corn Root Worm, Billbug, Colorado Potato Beetle, Thrips, Ants and termites (apply directly to mound and nest areas),and many other deep soil dwelling insects.

They are highly efficent when the pest is more widely dispersed in the soil because they have a "tooth" to rupture the insect's skin and enter through the insect's body wall and openings.

Steinernema carpocapse Nematodes is most effective against flea larvae and caterpillars in lawns, garden soil, and under trees where larvae pupate. They stay near the surface waiting to ambush surface dwelling pests. Target pests include: Fleas, Codling Moth, Cutworm, Armyworm, Leafminer, Sod Webworm, Mole Cricket, some caterpillar pests, Ants, Termites, Fruit Flies, Sod Webworm, Black Flies, Tachina Flies, German Cockroach, Crickets, Squash Bugs, Meal Moth, Grubs, Leaf Beetles, June Beetles, Billbug, European Crane Fly, Cranberry Girdler and many other surface dwellers.

Steinernema feltiae Nematodes are the most effective nematodes against fly larvae. They patrol the top 3" of the soil. Target pests include:Fungus Gnat, Flea Beetles, Algae Gnats, Saw Flies, Black Fly, Leaf Beeles, Tachina Flies, Mushroom Flies, Crane Flies, Shore Flies and fruit flies.

They are effective against some plant parasitic nematodes, particularly root-knot nematodes.


Though they are harmless to humans, animals, plants, and healthy eartworms, beneficial nematodes aggressively pursue insects. When they sense the temperature and carbon dioxide emissions of soil-borne insects, beneficial nematodes move toward their prey and enter the pest through its body openings. The nematodes carry an associated bacterium (Xenorhabdus species) that kills insects fast within 48 hours. The bacteria is harmless to humans and other organisms and cannot live freely in nature. Several generations of nematodes may live and breed within the dead pest, they emerge and seek more pests in the soil. Beneficial nematodes are so effective, they can work in the soil to kill the immature stages of garden pests before they become adults.

Beneficial nematodes infest grubs that are known to destroy crops. They are effective against white grubs and the larval or grub stage of Japanese Beetles, Northern Masked Chafer, European Chafer, Rose Chafer, Fly larvae, Oriental Beetles, June Beetles, Flea beetles, Bill-bugs, Cut-worms, Army worms, Black Vine Weevils, Strawberry Root Weevils, Fungus Gnats, Sciarid larvae, Sod Web-worms, Girdler, Citrus Weevils, Maggots and other Dip-tera, Mole Crickets, Iris Borer, Root Maggot, Cabbage Root Maggot, Flea, Ants, and Carrot Weevils.

Beneficial nematodes are also effective against: termites, German cockroaches, flies, ant, and fleas.


Nematodes are very easy to use. The best time to apply nematodes is when pest larvae are known to be present. Mix with water and spray or sprinkle on the soil along garden or crop rows or around larger plants such as tomatoes. Put the contents of nematodes in a bucket of water and stir to break up any lumps, and let the entire solution soak for a few minutes. Then carefully pour the nematodes into a second bucket or sprayer and use the spray solution immediately. The majority of the carrying material remains in the first bucket. Application can be made using a water-can, irrigation system, knapsack or sprayer. On sprayer use a maximum pressure to avoid blockage, all sieves should be removed. The sprayer nozzle opening should be at leat 1/2 mm. Evenly spread the spraying solutions over the ground area to be treated. Continuous mixing should take place to prevent the nematodes from sinking to the bottom. After application keep the soil moist during the first two weeks for the nematodes to get establish. For a garden, sometimes the best method is using a simple sprinkling or water can to apply the nematodes in the soil. Apply nematodes before setting out transplants; for Japanese Beetle grubs apply whenever symptomatic damage from insects is detected. Apply water first if soil is dry. During hot weather release nematodes at night when temperature is cooler. Release once or twice a year or until infestation subsides. Nematodes are shipped in the infectious larvae stage of their life cycle and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Always release very early in the morning or late in the late afternoon.

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