Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #170385

Title: Application technology and environmental considerations for use of entomopathogenic nematodes in biologican control.

item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/13/2005
Publication Date: 2/21/2006
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Gouge, D.H., Piggott, S.J., Patterson Fife, J. 2006. Application technology and environmental considerations for use of entomopathogenic nematodes in biological control. Biological Control. 38:124-133.

Interpretive Summary: Insect-killing nematodes are small round worms that kill insect pests but don't harm people or the environment. These nematodes can be applied using most standard horticultural or agricultural equipment including watering cans, backpack sprayers, irrigation systems, and tractor pulled sprayers. This article reviews the effects of various application parameters on the ability of nematodes to control insect pests. The type of equipment used could affect the fitness and quality of the nematodes. Pressure inside spray equipment should be kept below 300 psi and nozzle pores should be larger than 50 um. Additionally, exposure to ultraviolet light and desiccating conditions should be avoided during application. Therefore, applications to soil are generally substantially more effective than foliar applications. Further optimization of application parameters for insecticidal nematodes will lead to improved pest control.

Technical Abstract: A wide range of technology is available for application of entomopathogenic nematodes including various irrigation systems and spray equipment. The choice of application equipment, and manner in which the nematodes are applied, can have substantial impact on pest control efficacy. For example, nozzle and pumping system types are some of the parameters that can affect nematode fitness in spray equipment. In addition to application equipment, a variety of other abiotic and biotic factors must be considered. In general, a rate of 25 infective juvenile nematodes per cm2 is required for successful pest suppression. Critical environmental factors include avoidance of ultraviolet radiation, adequate soil moisture, and appropriate temperature. With some exceptions foliar applications have been less successful than soil applications due to nematode susceptibility to desiccation and UV; recent research, however, indicates that frequent low-rate applications of nematodes to foliage can result in substantial suppression of greenhouse pest such as thrips. Further innovation in application technology will undoubtedly contribute to the expansion of entomopathogenic nematodes as biocontrol agents.