Nematode Worms

Different types of nematode worms. Parasitic plant and root knot soil nematodes. Flea control nematodes. Buy beneficial nematodes here.

Nematode Worms, Philometroides, in a Fish Fin
Nematode Worms, Philometroides, in a Fish Fin

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Calentine, Robert
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There are all types of nematodes. From harmful parasitic nematodes which plague both plants and pets to beneficial fire ant and flea control nematodes which destroy other pests without harming the host.

The primary focus of this page is plant nematodes but I will also cover the other types.

What is a Nematode?

A nematode is a microscopic worm that can live in garden soil, water, or on a live host. The nematode worm is invisible to the naked eye. It has an elongated, cylindrical body that is pointed on each end.

There are more than 28,000 nematode species. About half of these are harmful parasitic types.

Plant Parasitic Nematodes

Root Knot Nematodes

The root knot nematode worm lives in soil and feeds on the roots of fig trees , tomatoes , eggplant, and sweet peppers as well as many other garden plants.

If your soil is infested with these pests, you will notice the following nematode symptoms in any susceptible plants:

  • Stunted growth
  • Lack of vigor
  • Yellowing foliage
  • Wilting leaves
  • As these plant parasitic nematodes continue feeding, the plant may die.

    The confirming symptom is root gall. But you have to either pull the plant up and shake the soil from its roots or, if the plant is large, dig up a portion of the root system and examine the roots. If the plant suffers from a nematode infection, the roots will be covered in galls or root knots which will vary in size.

    Once nematode infections have done extensive root damage, there is no use trying to save the plant.

    Soybean Cyst Nematode

    The cyst nematode is a roundworm which feeds on the roots of soybean plants. The adult females of this nematode species are just large enough to be visible to the naked eye.

    Cyst nematodes cause soybean plants to become yellowed and stunted. The damage will be spotty as these soil nematodes will not usually be evenly distributed throughout the garden or field. You'll have plants showing symptoms living right beside healthy plants.

    When you dig up the infected plants, be careful not to spread the pests into the surrounding soil. Do not shake the soil off the plants you remove, but discard it with them.

    Foliar Nematodes

    Unlike other plant parasitic nematodes, foliar nematodes feed on the above ground portions of zinnias, hosta, and many other popular garden plants.

    Foliar Nematode Infection Symptoms

    Small brown lesions or marks will appear on the leaves. To confirm that your plant is infected, remove the leaf, tear it in half and place it in a shallow bowl of water. Let it sit for a day and then peer into the water with a hand held magnifying glass.

    If you see little roundworms, your diagnosis is correct.

    GN - Golden Nematode

    The golden nematode is the most dangerous of all the plant parasitic nematodes. The 2 most important crops that are negatively affected by these worms are potatoes and tomatoes, though they also feed on eggplant roots.

    It is also called potato cyst nematode because the worms form yellowish cysts on the plant's roots to protect their eggs. This causes yellowing, wilting, and a general lack of vigor in the plants.

    There is no way to confirm a diagnosis at home. Send soil samples out to a lab to be tested.

    GN was first discovered in a potato field in Long Island, NY in 1941. It has since become a major problem in Europe. According to the USDA, 75% of the potato production land in England is currently infested.

    About 40 new GN resistant potato varieties have been developed which will grow and crop well on infested soil.

    Pine Wood Nematode

    The pine wood nematode cause pine wilt disease in trees of the Pinus species. These nematode worms are native to North American and are not a serious threat to pine trees native to that area.

    It is an important pest in Japan and China where pine wilt is more damaging.

    The pine wood nematode worm is spread by the pine sawyer beetle as it feeds on or lays eggs in tree bark. The worms reproduce in the tree's sapwood and can cause it to wilt and die within weeks.

    There is no cure for pine wilt. The best way for North Americans to prevent it is to avoid planting non-native pines. If you already have these trees in your landscape, keep them watered during drought conditions.

    Intestinal Nematodes

    Intestinal nematodes live in the digestive tract of infested humans. Other names for these human parasitic nematodes are roundworm, whipworm, pinworm, and hookworm.

    These nematode worms are spread by unsanitary habits and living conditions. (An infested person uses the restroom and doesn't wash their hands. They touch something that an uninfested person subsequently handles. That person eats without first washing their hands and becomes infested.)

    Another way to pick these hitchhikers up is by walking barefoot on dirty ground as some types of nematodes can be transmitted by skin contact with them.

    Once inside the human body, they make their way into the intestines where they reproduce. At first there are no symptoms.

    As their numbers increase, they may produce itching, diarrhea, stomach ache, iron deficiency anemia, vaginitis, rectal prolapse and even intestinal necrosis.

    Intestinal nematodes are diagnosed by examination of a stool sample.

    Flea Control Nematodes

    Flea control nematodes are a natural veterinary nematode treatment.

    Nematodes for fleas are a boon to pet owners everywhere! They kill fleas in the soil before they can hitch a ride into your home on Fido's back. Bye, bye nematodes!

    Fleas can make both your human and animal family members miserable. Finally, there is a nontoxic product to exterminate these pests.

    Beneficial Nematodes
    What are beneficial nematodes? Advantages of biological pest control. Using beneficial bugs for the natural garden. Good bug vs bad bug.

    Ring Nematode
    The ring nematode is a parasitic plant nematode (as opposed to flea or human nematodes)that plays a role in the development of PTSL (peach tree short life) a peach tree disease.

    Tomato Fruitworm
    The tomato fruitworm is a tomato pest that burrows into the immature fruit. Biological pest controls such as Bacillus thuringiensis and parasitic wasps will help you stop the damage.

    Beet Armyworms
    Beet armyworms. Tomato pests. Natural armyworm control. Nontoxic tomato plant pest control that kills armyworms.

    Nematode Control
    Nematode control methods and products. Solutions for root knot and foliar plant parasitic nematodes. Neem and nematodes.

    Go from Nematode Worms to Botanical Journeys Plant Guides Home


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