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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR KEY PESTS OF PECAN AND PEACH

Location: Fruit and Nut Research

Title: Using entomopathogenic nematodes for crop insect control

Authors
item Miles, Carol -
item Blethen, Caitlin -
item Gauger, Randy -
item Shapiro Ilan, David
item Murray, Todd -

Submitted to: Oregon State University Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2012
Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Citation: Miles, C., Blethen, C., Gauger, R., Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Murray, T. 2012. Using entomopathogenic nematodes for crop insect control. Oregon State University Extension Service. http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/PNW544.pdf

Interpretive Summary: The objective of this paper is to provide an overview on using entomopathogenic nematodes for insect pest control. Entomopathogenic nematodes, also known as beneficial nematodes, are small round worms that can be used as natural biopesticides. Unlike plant parasitic nematodes, which can be serious crop pests, the entomopathogenic nematodes only kill insects. Entomopathogenic nematodes used in biological pest control kill insects with the help of symbiotic bacteria. Once the nematodes enter the insect they release their bacteria and reproduce inside the host. There are more than 80 species of entomopathogenic nematodes but only about 12 species have been commercialized for use as biopesticides. Some important factors to consider when apply beneficial nematodes are 1) adequate moisture or high humidity is critical to success, 2) avoid direct sunlight and temperature extremes (optimum temperatures for nematode activity are generally between 20 and 30 Celsius), 3) maintain adequate aeration, 4) store nematodes at 4 to 10 C prior to use, but try to use them as soon as possible. Entomopathogenic nematodes can be applied to control a wide of important insect pests such as various caterpillars, weevils, other beetles, wood-boring insects, etc. However, it is important to match the target pest with a specific nematode species that is known to kill that host. The nematodes can be applied using most standard agricultural sprayers and irrigation systems, anything from a watering can or backpack sprayer to tractor pulled sprayer will do.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this paper is to provide an overview on using entomopathogenic nematodes for insect pest control. Entomopathogenic nematodes (genera Steinernema and Heterorhabditis), are be used as natural biopesticides. Unlike plant parasitic nematodes, which can be serious crop pests, entomopathogenic nematodes only kill insects. Entomopathogenic nematodes used in biological pest control kill insects with the help of symbiotic bacteria (Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus associated with Heterorhabditis and Steinernema, respectively). Once the nematodes enter the insect they release their bacteria and reproduce inside the host. There are more than 80 species of entomopathogenic nematodes but only about 12 species have been commercialized for use as biopesticides. Some important factors to consider when apply beneficial nematodes are 1) adequate moisture or high humidity is critical to success, 2) avoid direct sunlight and temperature extremes (optimum temperatures for nematode activity are generally between 20 and 30 C), 3) maintain adequate aeration, 4) store nematodes at 4 to 10 C prior to use, but try to use them as soon as possible. Entomopathogenic nematodes can be applied to control a wide of important insect pests such as various Lepidoptera larvae, Curculionidae and other Coleoptera, wood-boring sesiids, etc. However, it is important to match the target pest with a specific nematode species that is known to kill that host. The nematodes can be applied using most standard agricultural sprayers and irrigation systems, anything from a watering can or backpack sprayer to tractor pulled sprayer will do.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014