Beneficial Nematodes: Exploring Their Role & Value

Live nematodes

While great strides have been made in the development of effective beneficial nematodes over the past several years, there is still confusion among growers about these little worms. Are they safe? How do they work? Do they cause damage? To help clear things up, we have put together a three-part series all about beneficial nematodes.

With a variety of factors drive pest management changes in horticultural operations, many professionals are looking to expand their use of biological control agents (BCAs), including their use of beneficial nematodes. Growers find beneficial nematodes to be an attractive addition to existing pest management programs because they reduce or eliminate restricted-entry intervals, have limited impact to worker and customer safety, promote environmental stewardship and are valuable pesticide resistance and residue management tools.

How Beneficial Nematodes Work
Beneficial nematodes, also known as entomopathogenic nematodes or insect-parasitic nematodes, are microscopic, un-segmented roundworms. They are naturally occurring and already present in the soil environment.

In their infective juvenile stage, beneficial nematodes search out and kill targeted insect pests. Different nematode species attack different pests.

When a beneficial nematode finds its host pest, it enters through natural openings (i.e., mouth, anus and spiracles) or directly through the cuticle. Once inside, the nematodes release a bacterium that kills the host within 24 to 48 hours. The infective juveniles develop into adults and reproduce within the dead insect. Reproduction inside the insect releases new generations of nematodes that seek out other pests.

What does that mean for a grower? Applications of beneficial nematodes provide continuous control over an extended period. The amount of control will depend on a variety of factors, including application and environment, but typically a beneficial nematode population should last at least two to four weeks.

The different species of nematodes use different pest-seeking methods. For example, Steinernema feltiae uses carbon dioxide, movement and vibrations to locate fungus gnat larvae.

Why Use Beneficial Nematodes?
There are many reasons why growers choose to use beneficial nematodes in their operations. Whatever the reason for starting, growers continue using them because of their effectiveness. They see consistent control through extended use. So, what is the secret to their success?

Compatibility. Use beneficial nematodes as a standalone program or in conjunction with other BCAs, such as insects, or chemical control products.. The combination of multiple control agents broadens the pest control spectrum and helps effectively manage all life stages in a pest population.

Chemical Use. Many growers are surprised to learn that beneficial nematodes can be used in a rotational program with conventional insecticides. This approach reduces the number of chemical applications needed for effective pest control, reducing the likelihood that pests will develop pesticide resistance.

Re-Entry Interval. Beneficial nematode products have no re-entry interval (REI), so it is safe to enter the area immediately following applications. If other pesticides or chemicals are included with the application, check their labels for REI information.

No Resistance Concerns. Many species of insects can develop resistance to certain chemicals that have been applied frequently. That is not a concern with beneficial nematodes. They physically enter the body of the pest and release a bacterium that causes the death of the insect. There is no risk of insect pests developing a resistance to beneficial nematodes.

Safety. Beneficial nematodes are host-specific and only affect targeted insect pests. They are harmless to any organism other than the susceptible insects. Because beneficial nematodes are non-toxic and harmless to humans, there are no disposal restrictions and no need for applicators to wear protective gear.

How To Begin. Before you begin using beneficial nematodes in your pest management program, you should do your homework. Know what pests you want to treat, have an idea of your infestation levels, and be sure that you get the right species of beneficial nematodes to attack the pest. We will share more tips for beneficial nematode applications in the next issue.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Beneficial Nematodes: Exploring Their Role & Value

  1. Why spend money on a product that provides only one benfit ( control of harmful nematodes ) vs other biological products that not only suppress harmful nematodes but offer other benefits such as 1. reduced fertilizer usage, 2. reduced fungicide usage, 3 reduced irrigation demand, Shorten the growing season, 4. produce greater root mass, 5. reduce the time to blooming and fruit set, 6 increae the number of blooms and 7. increase fruit weight and yield.

More From Insect Control...
Koppert Ulti-Mite Swirski sachet

June 21, 2017

New Tool from Koppert Provides More Effective Thrips Management

A newly patented sachet for the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii is resistant to both low and high levels of humidity, helping growers combat thrips infestations.

Read More
Cannabis Seedling

May 20, 2017

Biocontrols: A Practical Option for Cannabis

With limited options for chemical pest control, cannabis growers are incorporating biocontrols into their integrated pest management programs. More education will cement this solution as a viable option in this emerging market.

Read More
Four Lined Plant Bug

May 8, 2017

Four-Lined Plant Bug Emerges as Troublesome Pest in Pennsylvania

Four-lined plant bug damage is very characteristic: circular brown to black spots about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter. The spots are easily mistaken for disease or frost damage.

Read More
Latest Stories
Koppert Ulti-Mite Swirski sachet

June 21, 2017

New Tool from Koppert Provides More Effective Thrips Ma…

A newly patented sachet for the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii is resistant to both low and high levels of humidity, helping growers combat thrips infestations.

Read More
Cannabis Seedling

May 20, 2017

Biocontrols: A Practical Option for Cannabis

With limited options for chemical pest control, cannabis growers are incorporating biocontrols into their integrated pest management programs. More education will cement this solution as a viable option in this emerging market.

Read More
Four Lined Plant Bug

May 8, 2017

Four-Lined Plant Bug Emerges as Troublesome Pest in Pen…

Four-lined plant bug damage is very characteristic: circular brown to black spots about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter. The spots are easily mistaken for disease or frost damage.

Read More

May 4, 2017

Bayer Altus Update: Neonic Insect Control Alternative N…

Altus, a butenolide class insecticide with the active ingredient flupyradifurone, will be available beginning May 1, and is labeled for greenhouse and nursery use on ornamental plants, vegetable transplants, and indoor vegetable production.

Read More
Ambrosia Beetle

April 7, 2017

Tips On How to ID Ambrosia Beetle Damage, And How to Co…

Ambrosia beetles are often overlooked as being a primary cause of plant loss, but research and experience are proving otherwise.

Read More

February 28, 2017

OHP Launches New Ovicide/Miticide, Announces Partnershi…

Applause is a new miticide that targets eggs and immature stages of several mite species. Through the Vestaron partnership, OHP will market Spear-O, a toxin-derived bioinsecticide.

Read More
Remote Sensing Feature

February 12, 2017

Using Remote Sensing to Optimize IPM in Greenhouses

Researchers at the University of California Davis are developing advanced remote sensing technologies to automate detection of insect pest infestations in greenhouses, which could revolutionize integrated pest management practices.

Read More
Adult Thrips feature

January 25, 2017

Tips to Stay Ahead of Aphids, Mites, and Thrips

Control these persistent pests with innovative chemistries that will expand your rotation options with new modes of action.

Read More
Effective pest control

January 12, 2017

Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…

Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

January 10, 2017

Pest Management Workshop to Take Place in Virginia on J…

Battlefield Farms will host the workshop, which is being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension and will focus on new techniques in disease and insect control.

Read More
foxglove-aphid

November 29, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Manage The Foxglove Aphid

Recent research is shedding new light on the foxglove aphid. Understanding host plants, identification, and biology will help growers deal with this pest.

Read More

October 25, 2016

Why Logic May Be The Best Defense Against Q-Biotype Whi…

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff says while you may feel you're in a lose-lose situation with pest control, there are some solutions that can help.

Read More
Downy mildew lesions on light coleus cultivars feature

October 4, 2016

Crop Protection Manufacturers Detail 2017 Early Order D…

Greenhouse Grower asked crop protection product manufacturers to send us the details for their 2017 Early Order Discount Programs and ongoing rebate programs, to provide you with a compiled knowledge resource of all discount offers at a time when you're making decisions for 2017.

Read More

September 28, 2016

Floriculture Industry Working To Solve The Whitefly Pro…

This summer, the floriculture industry has been faced with a dangerous new development — the detection of the Q-Biotype whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) in outdoor landscapes. It’s the first time that the Q-Biotype has been found in the U.S., outside of a greenhouse or wholesale nursery, since the pest was first detected on an ornamental plant in an Arizona greenhouse in December 2004. This year in Florida, there have been 47 detections of the Q since April, in retail nurseries and residential landscapes in 10 counties in Florida, from Miami-Dade to Duval County, primarily on hibiscus. Other hosts involved are crossandra, eggplant transplants, lantana, ficus, and porter weed. The detections have been in 17 retail nurseries, eight wholesale nurseries, 10 residential landscapes, and two agricultural fields. Other states have reported Q-Biotype detections this year, as well. The discovery of Q-Biotype whitefly in the landscape is troubling for the entire ornamentals industry, […]

Read More
Chrysanthemum Aphid

August 22, 2016

How To ID And Manage Black Aphids In Chrysanthemums

Growers in Michigan have recently been reporting a higher presence of this pest. Here are some tips on how to control it.

Read More
Greenhouse Whitefly

August 18, 2016

Vestaron Planning For More Research And Development Of …

On the heels of launching Spear-T, its first bioinsecticide, Vestaron has received additional financing that will be used to develop new products with new modes of action.

Read More
BioWorks Mycotrol

August 17, 2016

New Organic Mycoinsecticide From BioWorks Now Registere…

BioWorks’ Mycotrol can be used to manage whitefly, thrips, aphids, and other insects in greenhouses and nurseries.

Read More
Poinsettia, Heavy Whitefly Infestation -Lower Leaves, Insect - Feature

August 3, 2016

Tips For Successful Late-Season Whitefly Control

Managing late-season whiteflies successfully on poinsettia requires preventative measures put in to action early in the production cycle.

Read More