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Beneficial Nematodes — A Natural Pest Control

Flea beetles, fungus gnats, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, grubs, termites, hornets–what do all of these pests have in common besides being a nuisance in your garden? They’re all easily controlled with beneficial nematodes!

Beneficial nematodes are a great organic means to get rid of pests that are wreaking havoc in your garden. They’re safe for humans and pets, and one application can last up to five years–though yearly application is recommended.

Wait a second–what are beneficial nematodes exactly?

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic parasites that exterminate hundreds of common garden pests. How do they do this? They infiltrate the bodies of the garden pests and multiply inside of them. In many cases, this will kill the pest, however, in other cases, the pest may become infertile and lay beneficial nematodes instead of their own offspring. Depending on the varieties of beneficial nematodes you have, you can target over 200 types of insects including many different kinds of worms, larvae, and hard-shelled pests! Here is a list of some of the pests that beneficial nematodes target:

Japanese Beetles, Northern Masked Chafer, European Chafer, Rose Chafer, Fly larvae, Oriental Beetles, June Beetles, Flea beetles, Bill-bugs, Cutworms, Army worms, Black Vine Weevils, Strawberry Root Weevils, Fungus Gnats, Sciarid larvae, Sod Web-worms, Girdler, Citrus Weevils, Maggots and other Dip-tera, Mole Crickets, Iris Borer, Root Maggot, Cabbage Root Maggot, and Carrot Weevils.

Beneficial nematodes should not be confused with bad nematodes, however, as bad nematodes target roots of your garden plants. With that said, beneficial nematodes can be used to eliminate bad nematodes from your garden.

Where can I get beneficial nematodes?

Luckily for us, there are a few places online where we can order beneficial nematodes. One brand that we particularly like is this one. This particular product targets over 230 different garden pests. We’ve had excellent results in our garden and container plants using this product, specifically for grub, flea beetles, and fungus gnats.

How long does it take to work?

It depends on the pest that you’re after, however, you can typically see results in 5-7 days. With that said, your results will vary depending on how well you apply the beneficial nematodes.

How do I apply beneficial nematodes?

Beneficial nematodes are a cinch to apply. First, you will want to get ready to apply them at sunset to give them time to burrow down before the heat and sun hits. Then you take the package of beneficial nematodes and put them into about two gallons of water and leave them there for 30 minutes. While they are sitting in the water, go to your garden and prep the soil by watering the soil. Watering the soil will help the nematodes better acclimate to their new environment, increasing the chance of success. Once the 30 minutes is up, you will want to water the affected area with the nematode solution. You can do this with a watering can or sprayer, but make sure that you stir up the solution frequently as the nematodes have a tendency to settle at the bottom of the solution. After applying the nematodes, water the area again to water the nematodes in. A second watering also gives you a chance to wash nematodes off foliage. *Note: If you can time it right, apply during a rain for best results.

Often times your nematodes will come harbored in chunky wood-like pellets. You can distribute this over the soil or area before using the actual solution as it will decompose.

Also, it’s typically a good idea to apply nematodes in early to mid spring or about a week before planting. This will give them a chance to eliminate bad bugs before you get your garden planted. Further, many soil-borne pests are still in their grub or larval form at this time, which nematodes particularly like.

Application aside, there are a couple of important things you need to know about beneficial nematodes. First, you’ll need to immediately put them in your refrigerator upon receiving them. They’re living organisms that need to be stored at around 38 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain their viability. Second, even if the expiration date is far from the date you received them, you’ll want to apply within 2 weeks of receiving them.

All in all, beneficial nematodes are excellent pest exterminators that are a 100% organic and safe option for you, your family, and your garden.