Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wapato, Washington » Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #164938


item GEORGIS, R.
item Lacey, Lawrence
item BELAIR, G
item DUNCAN, L
item GREWAL, P
item SAMISH, M
item TORR, P
item VAN TOL, R.W.H.

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2005
Publication Date: 6/1/2006
Citation: Georgis, R., Koppenhofer, A.M., Lacey, L.A., Belair, G., Duncan, L.W., Grewal, P.S., Samish, M., Torr, P., Van Tol, R.M. 2006. Successes and failures in the use of parasitic nematodes for pest control. Biological Control. 38: 103-123.

Interpretive Summary: There is a need to develop alternatives to conventional pesticides due to environmental, and food and worker safety issues. Sustainable agriculture in the 21st century will rely increasingly on alternative interventions for pest management that are environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of human contact with pesticides. The IPM strategy, in which natural enemies (parasites, predators and pathogens) of pest arthropods and other alternative measures play significant roles in crop protection, can contribute to a more sustainable approach of for management of pests in potato production. Microbial control offers an alternative to conventional insecticides that is safe to applicators, consumers, and the environment including insect natural enemies of pest insects. In this presentation we provide an overview on the successes and failures of insect-specific nematodes as alternative insecticides. Commercial successes are documented in markets such as citrus, greenhouses and glasshouses, turf and mushrooms. Improvements in nematodes virulence, formulation stability and application strategies will enhance the commercial success of these insect-specific alternatives to broad spectrum insecticides.

Technical Abstract: Advances in mass-production and formulation technology, and the discovery of numerous isolates/strains, together with the desirability of reducing pesticide usage, has resulted in a surge of scientific and commercial interest in entomopathogenic nematodes. The success or failure of the nematodes against 24 pest species and families of agriculture and animals are outlined in this review. Commercial successes are documented in markets such as citrus, greenhouses and glasshouses, turf and mushrooms. Despite this progress, the reality is that nematode-based products have limited market share. Limited share is attributed to higher product cost compared to standard insecticides, low efficacy under unfavorable conditions, application timing and conditions, limited data and cost benefit in IPM programs, refrigeration requirements and limited room temperature shelf life (product quality), use of suboptimum nematode species and lack of detail application directions. One or more of these factors affected the market introduction of the nematodes despite promising field efficacy against insects such as black cutworm in turf, sugar beet weevil in sugar beet and sweetpotato weevil in sweet potato. Insects such as cabbage root maggots, carrot root weevil and Colorado potato beetle are listed in the label of certain commercial products despite low efficacy data, due to insect susceptibility, biology and/or behavior. What is needed to make entomopathogenic nematodes more successful are realistic strategies through genetic engineering, IPM programs, and new delivery systems to overcome their inherent cost, formulation instability and limited field efficacy towards certain insects and under certain environmental conditions.