If you are an avid gardener, you understand how soil-bound pests can be detrimental to your plants. Unfortunately, to eradicate these agricultural menaces, people often utilize chemical-based treatments such as pesticides. Although effective, pesticides can be harmful not only to your plants, but to humans and pets as well, not to mention the long-term effects they have on the ecosystem.
In order to effectively prevent and remove pests from their gardens without resorting to the use of chemicals, many people are turning to organic solutions, one of which are nematodes. Beneficial nematodes are one of nature’s most effective pest controllers, and because they
are so easy to use, even the most inexperienced of gardeners can reap their garden-
Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that naturally occur in soil, but they can also be purchased and introduced into an environment. These genetically and ecologically-diverse organisms occupy more varied habitats than any other animal group in the world and serve a variety of functions in nature – controlling agricultural pests is one of their most valuable qualities. Although not all nematodes are effective at treating pests, those that belong to the families Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae have long helped farmers provide biological control for soil-dwelling insect pests.
Once you have applied nematodes to your garden, they will immediately get to work controlling pests. As nematodes find a host pest, they enter through their various body openings or directly through the body wall. Next, they release a toxic bacterium that kills its host within 24 to 48 hours. During this time, the host insect will serve as a food source and hospitable environment for reproduction, being discarded as the search for the next victim begins.
As successful as nematodes are at killing invasive insects in your garden, you may be worried that they can harm humans and animals in the process. Fortunately, that’s not the case: not only do nematodes inflict no harm to humans or pets, they also leave plants, earthworms, and other soil inhabitants alone, attacking only soil-dwelling insects. In fact, beneficial nematodes are such a safe and reliable biological control for pests, that the EPA has waived the
registration requirements for their application.
Nematodes have adapted to thrive in a variety of environments and external conditions, making their application very simple. However, since they are living organisms and sensitive to light, applying them in the proper manner and conditions can increase their effectiveness. Once you have purchased the nematodes, mix them with water and apply to your garden using a watering can. Make sure the soil is moist before you begin and lightly water your garden again after application. Due to their high sensitivity to light, it is vital to apply them to your garden early in the morning or at dusk. Repeat this process every two weeks until the pest infestation has subsided.
Although nematodes can be effective at controlling pests on their own, they are not foolproof, and additional treatments may be required. If pests have turned your garden into a feeding ground, avoid using toxic pesticides and contact Greenleaf Pest Control for their safe and effective removal. By utilizing only the most ecologically-friendly pest control treatments, you can be rest assured that your garden will be free of invasive insects without placing your plants, family, or pets in danger.
About the Author:
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.