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When To Apply Beneficial Nematodes

If you're having problems with worms and grubs in your garden and looking for ways to control them, then you may have heard of beneficial nematodes. But you may be curious, when is the best time to apply it? So, we researched this for you, and here is what we found. 

When soil temperatures range from 42°F to 95°F, nematodes should be administered in the morning or the evening. Above 95°F, beneficial nematodes are no longer active and can no longer parasitize prey.

We'll now discuss what beneficial nematodes are, how much you need, and how to apply them. We'll also tackle the benefits of using beneficial nematodes, how long it takes to see results, and how often you should apply them. So, read on!

man digging soil, ground, earth, dirt, sun set, shovel, When To Apply Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial Nematodes- What Are They?

The segmented roundworms known as beneficial nematodes live naturally in soil all over the world. There are more than 20,000 different types of nematodes, but only entomopathogenic nematodes, also known as insect-parasitic nematodes, are utilized for pest control.

close up photo of a larvae filled with parasite nematodes

How Do Beneficial Nematodes Work?

The tissues of soil-dwelling pests are invaded by these insect-parasitic nematodes through skin holes like the mouth or anus.

After entering, the nematodes release bacteria that kills the host pest and decomposes host tissue for the nematode to consume. 48 hours pass before the host insect dies.

The juvenile worms eat on the host till they have finished it as the nematodes breed inside it.

After that, tens of thousands of infectious juveniles depart from that host and travel on to hunt down additional insect pests, continuing the process until no pests are left.

The Life Cycle Of A Nematode

a close up photo of a parasite nematode, microscopic photo

In this section, we'll elaborate on the three main life stages of a nematode namely: 

  • egg
  • larvae
  • adult

Stage 1: Egg

The nematode eggs are shaped like an oval. Three membranes protect the eggs:

  • the uterus wall's secretory external protein layer,
  • the egg's own middle chitinous layer, which is the actual shell,
  • and the inner lipid layer.

Varied kinds of nematodes have different amounts of chitin in their egg shells.

Stage 2 & 3: Larvae & Adults

The initial larval stage (L1) is created when the eggs hatch, and it subsequently goes through numerous (typically four) metamorphoses to become L2, L3, and L4 (immature adults).

The immature adult is released during the final molt, after which it develops into an adult worm. Adults who are male or female mate, and the female then gives birth to eggs, ending the cycle.

L1 and L2 typically continue to eat bacteria in the feces. L3 does not eat, instead relying on stored energy. They move through watery pasture films.

The host animal must swallow the L3 infective stage for the life cycle to continue. Later molts take place inside the host.

How Much Beneficial Nematode Should You Apply?

You will quickly discover that there is a lot of contradictory information about how many nematodes you need to apply for efficient pest control if you start to look around and do some research.

The amount of water to mix with nematodes has no specific recommended ratio. The water itself is not significant; it just serves as a vehicle for the nematodes to travel to disseminate throughout the soil and reach the pests.

A decent rule of thumb for a nematode-to-water ratio is 1:1. Which means that you will mix 1 teaspoon of nematodes with one gallon of water, but you may choose a greater or lower concentration depending on how terrible your pest infestation is.

You might find instructions on using a certain amount of water with the nematodes you purchase. Whenever possible, adhere to the directions on the packaging.

To guarantee successful control, BioLogic Company advises treating at a relatively high application rate of roughly 25,000 nematodes per square foot.

How To Apply Beneficial Nematodes?

Before proceeding with the application process, you must first prepare the following materials needed: 

Beneficial Nematodes

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Watering Can or Sprayer

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Large Bucket 

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Let's now proceed to the beneficial nematode application process:

Wait and Apply at the Right Time

illuminated photo of a backyard garden on the evening

Because they are living organisms, beneficial nematodes are sensitive to UV radiation and extremely hot temperatures (up to 90 degrees). The pest you wish to control determines the ideal time of year to apply nematodes.

To determine what time of year your target pest lives in the soil, learn about its life cycle. You should use beneficial nematodes at that time because they exclusively influence soil-dwelling organisms.

Moisten and Aerate the Ground

Nematodes use the water in the spaces between soil particles to move through your soil in search of their food, the target pest. Those openings are necessary for nematodes to function, therefore your soil cannot be compacted and must be damp.

Add the Nematodes to Water and Mix

Using filtered water from your refrigerator door or sink, fill your huge bucket. If you first filter the water, you can use hose water. Nematodes must be combined with filtered water because chlorine could destroy them.

Depending on how they are packaged when you purchase them, you should mix the nematodes with water. Nematodes typically come as a sponge, dry granules, or fine clay powder.

Apply to Your Garden

Put the water and nematode mixture in your watering can or sprayer. Regardless of the spreading tool you employ, the openings must be at least 1/2 millimeter wide for the nematodes to pass through.

You can spread or spray the nematodes over the area you want to treat, whether it's your entire lawn and garden or just a particular spot where pests are a problem.

Try your best to evenly distribute the water and nematodes. Because the nematodes are denser than water and will sink to the bottom if you don't shake your watering can or sprayer frequently when using it, you need.

Maintain Soil Moisture

Nematodes require a damp atmosphere, as we've already mentioned. After application, for about 10 days, keep the soil especially wet to let the nematodes establish themselves. Every three to four days during this period, softly water the treated area.

You don't want to use a lot of water because you'll be watering so frequently for the first 10 days or you risk drowning your grass and plants. The nematodes need only a gentle sprinkle to keep the soil cold and moist. If it rains, you won't need to water.

If Necessary, Reapply

After the initial application, you should apply beneficial nematodes at least once more. Wait seven to ten days, and then repeat the process of applying the nematodes the first time. By replenishing the population, this second application makes sure you don't miss any opportunities.

How Long Do Beneficial Nematodes Take Effect In Eliminating Unwanted Pests?

sun lit photo of a plants on bed on the backyard garden, sun set, sunlight

After around two weeks, you ought to see a decline in the number of the targeted pest. If the problem persists, reapply the beneficial nematodes every seven to ten days until the pests are gone.

Individual pests are killed by beneficial nematodes within 48 hours, but it takes around two weeks for the pest population to noticeably decline. The worms need time to feed on and multiply on one host before moving on to the next and repeating the same process for every pest.

How Long Can You Store Beneficial Nematodes?

Because they have a limited shelf life, wait to buy beneficial nematodes until you're about to use them. Nematodes can be kept for two weeks to a month in a refrigerator (don't use the freezer).

You also have to remember that you can't store them after they were diluted with water.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Beneficial Nematodes?

Here are some of the benefits you can reap when you use beneficial nematodes: 

  • An entirely natural and organic method of eradicating many common nuisance insects is to use beneficial nematodes.
  • Despite constantly seeking out and eliminating nuisance insects, beneficial nematodes are non-toxic and fully safe for people, pets, and plants.
  • Because pest insects can develop resistance to common chemical insecticides, they will eventually require more aggressive and potent measures. Since insects cannot develop a resistance to these biological pest controllers, this is not a risk when using them!
  • Unlike chemical pesticides, you can use beneficial nematodes without the risk of harming unintended creatures.
  • Depending on the circumstances, beneficial nematodes can survive in the soil for up to 18 months at concentrations high enough to suppress populations of pest insects. In comparison to chemical pesticide options, this implies that you can go much longer between applications.

Final Thoughts

man digging soil, ground, earth, dirt, sun set, shovel

Using beneficial nematodes requires careful planning and preparation. You need to apply it at the right time and the right temperature. You also need to don't let it get exposed to UV rays. 

In addition, you also need to constantly check the moisture of your soil to ensure that it will thrive and do its job. 

But, if you want an all-natural and effective way to eliminate unwanted pests without harming those that are around, then you should go for it!

If you're having problems involving Japanese beetles, you can check out these related articles before you go: 

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles [An Exploration Of 8 Methods]

Does Grub Control Kill Japanese Beetles?