Justin White, Landscaping Lessons | Beneficial nematodes  – Santa Cruz Sentinel

All of us who love to garden know that there is a downside to dealing with all of these pesky pests! If we see a favorite plant in distress, we can pull our hair out, but don’t worry, useful nematodes are here to save the day!

In addition to killing machines, these helpful worms are a biological control that does no harm to humans, animals, or even other worms. These living microscopic organisms seek out and destroy the larval stage of many problematic insects, including fungus flies, wireworms, cod moths, corn cob worms, cut worms, fleas, fly larvae, maggots, miners, root weevils, and coastal flies, to name a few. Do you have problems with moles, raccoons and skunks? Useful nematodes also help indirectly with these. These animals dig for maggots. So if you can get rid of the maggots, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Useful nematodes are microscopic, unsegmented roundworms that live in the soil. These invisible friends can hunt, penetrate, and kill almost any soil pest. Many of the insects that injure our plants are larvae in the soil. Regardless of whether the insect is harming your plant or the larva is eating its roots, beneficial nematodes will take care of the problem. They only look for the larval stage of insects and look for susceptible hosts by detecting waste products, carbon dioxide and temperature changes, killing them with a bacterium and then reproducing. The nematodes continue to live and multiply as long as there are hosts and no insecticides or freezing weather can reach them. Since they will eventually kill all of their hosts, you will need to reapply the nematodes about once a year.

Beneficial nematodes can be applied to your vegetable garden, ornamental beds, container, lawn, pasture, or anywhere there is soil and plants. I even put it on a living wall with great success. They also work for house plants. UV light kills the nematodes. Therefore, apply it in the morning or evening light when the sunlight is not direct. It is important to have moist soil. Therefore, lightly water the area before and after the nematode application.

After using useful nematodes for an extended period of time, I can definitely attest to their effectiveness in honing and killing bottom-born larvae in many situations and landscapes. Most of them are delivered chilled and must be kept chilled and consumed within a month. There are different types of nematodes. So do some research and make sure you are buying the right nematodes for your problem. You will also find charts to help you decide how many you need for the area you want to cover.

Even the smallest animals can have an impact on your landscaping, but beneficial nematodes allow you to battle the outdoors with nature and keep your plants in their greenest life!

I want to thank Darlene Beal for her contribution to this week’s article. Not only does Darlene work with us at K&D as our nursery manager and plant health specialist, but she is also my aunt. Much of what has been shared in this article comes from direct trial and error in our company’s kindergarten and in our customers’ gardens.

Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named Business of the Year 2020 by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several non-profit organizations across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening requirements, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.

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