Centipede Grass & Nematodes

Overview

Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a coarse perennial grass that spreads in a creeping fashion by stolons. The grass does produce an abundance of seed and can be easily propagated using the seeds. The grass is a warm season grass that flourishes from the Carolina's to Florida and as far east as Texas. In sandy soil conditions the sting nematode is a severe pest that afflicts centipede grass.

Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic worms that live in soil. They are parasitic in nature and readily feed on centipede grass and other plant life to flourish. The worms live in the fluids that surround the root system of the grass and in the fluids of the grass itself. The sting nematode (Belonolamus) and ring nematodes (Mesocriconema xenoplax) are the most damaging to centipede grass.

Nematode Feeding

Centipede that is under attack by sting nematodes will develop thin, weak stalks and begin to die during the hot and dry summer. Ring nematodes cause ring-like patches of yellowing, dying grass to occur.

Soil and Water Control

Damage from ring nematodes can often be avoided by a regular watering scheduling that does not allow the sandy soil to become overly dried out. Watering has very little effect on sting nematodes, however. Sting nematodes can often be controlled by and addition of organic matter to the soil but centipede grass can withstand high levels of nitrogen, so maintain care when adding organic matter.

Nutritional Levels

Perform a soil test on centipede grass that is under siege by nematodes. A deficiency in potassium has been noted with increased nematode activity. An overabundance of phosphorus can also contribute to the problem. The ideal soil pH for centipede grass health is 5.5.

Contact Nematicides

Apply contact nematicides to centipede grass in granular form to gain control of the nematode problem. Excessive watering is required when applying contact nematicides to ensure that it melts into the grass to come into contact with the nematodes. Nematicide drenches can also be used. Annual treatment is usually required to maintain control in areas of high nematode activity.

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About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.