Nematode Lawn Treatment

Overview

Nematode lawn treatment is an organic method of biological insect control that combats many insect pests in lawns without the use of chemicals. Beneficial nematodes are safe for humans, animals, birds, and plants, which makes them a very agreeable method of pest control. Because they're living creatures, homeowners must take care to ensure their health and safety.

Function

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms, unlike the segmented earthworms. Juvenile insect parasitic nematodes inject bacteria into the bodies of insects. As the insect dies, it remains intact because it's serving as a temporary home for these bacteria, which the nematodes burrow into and digest, along with the insects themselves. One or two generations of nematodes may infest a single insect at a time, bursting forth to look for their next insect victim when there's no longer room or food for them.

Benefits

Several species of beneficial nematodes are employed in organic pest control. Colorado State University Extension notes that species in the genera Steinernema are the most widely available, while a few species of Heterorhabditis are also available for specific purposes. A huge advantage of beneficial nematodes over other types of pest control is that specific species can be used to fight specific pests. Nematodes are extremely targeted creatures, which makes it easier for homeowners to control them. The University of Illinois Extension notes that Heterorhabditis bacteriophora are good for white grub control. The Ohio State University Extension notes that members of the genera Steinernema are particularly skilled with sod webworms.

Misconception

Nematodes exist in all soils everywhere and there are many species. Homeowners who are also gardeners may be familiar with root knot nematodes, which are not the same thing, and are harmful to certain types of plants. It's important to note that insect parasitic (or beneficial) nematodes shouldn't be confused or substituted with any other type of nematodes for successful lawn treatment and pest control.

Considerations

Beneficial nematodes are mainly sold through catalogs or online. Organic gardening shops may be able to place special orders. Beneficial nematodes store fairly well under proper conditions and are commonly refrigerated. Nematodes should never be frozen or allowed to reach temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, as this may either kill them or otherwise render them inactive. Additionally, nematodes require a moist environment, which is why they tend to inhabit soils. If soils become excessively dry, an existing nematode population will decrease.

Warning

Homeowners should be aware that predatory mites and some other soil-borne organisms prey on insect parasitic nematodes. If considering the use of these beneficial nematodes in lawns, take care to ensure that predatory mites aren't present. Beneficial nematodes work best in large numbers. A significant predatory mite presence can reduce or eliminate the effective potential of beneficial nematodes.

Keywords: beneficial nematode use, insect parasitic nematodes, natural pest control

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.