Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, whitish to transparent, unsegmented worms. There are thousands of kinds of nematodes, each with their particular feeding preferences.

Nematodes actively search for insects, insect pupa and insect larvae in places that are consistently moist. There are more than 250 susceptible insect species, including white grubs, termites, Peach tree borers, fire ants, stink bugs, fleas, chinch bugs, field crickets and flea beetles.

What does this mean to you? Nematodes can be used instead of chemicals to control lawn and garden pests.

Backbone Valley Nursery sells and recommends the “Guardian/Lawn Patrol Nematodes”, which is a sub-strain developed that is superior to strains used in the past. Under ideal conditions, “Guardian/Lawn Patrol Nematodes” can survive more than 90 days without a host insect. Once it locates and enters a host, it will kill the host, reproduce within it and the offspring will exit in search of more host insects.

Nematodes are best applied when the soil is moist and can be kept moist for several days. Irrigate before application-the soil should be moist but not soggy. Mix up the solution of nematodes in cool, preferably distilled water, pour into a sprayer and apply directly to the area. “Guardian/Lawn Patrol Nematodes” are best applied in the evening when it is cool and the sun is not out. Beneficial nematodes are most effective when soil temperature is between 50° and 85°F. “Watering-in” the Nematodes will put them in contact with the soil in which the target insects live. Irrigate several times to keep the soil moist for the next two weeks while the nematodes “do their work”. You can follow up in a week or so after application to see if grubs are parasitized. Look for red or yellow-brown infected grub larvae or pupae. A second application of “Guardian/Lawn Patrol Nematodes” about 2 weeks after the first will enhance control of target pests. Keep soil moist for at least two weeks each time they are applied.