All of us that love to garden know a downside can be dealing with all those pesky pests! Seeing a favorite plant in distress can have us pulling our hair out, but need not fear, as beneficial nematodes are here to save the day!

These helpful worms are not only killing machines, but they are also a biologic control that does not harm humans, animals or even other worms. These live microscopic organisms seek out and destroy the larval stage of many problem insects including fungus gnats, wireworms, codling moths, corn earworms, cutworms, fleas, fly larvae, grubs, leaf miners, root weevils, and shore flies to name a few! Having problems with moles, raccoons and skunks? Beneficial nematodes will indirectly help with those too. Those animals are digging for grubs, so if you get rid of the grubs, they will be forced to look elsewhere.

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, unsegmented roundworms that live in the soil. These invisible friends can hunt down, penetrate and kill almost any soil dwelling pest. Many insects that injure our plants have a larval stage in the soil. So, whether the insect damages your plant or the larva eats its roots, beneficial nematodes will take care of the problem. Seeking only the larval stage of insects, they search out susceptible hosts by detecting excretory products, carbon dioxide and temperature changes, kill it with a bacterium, and then reproduce. The nematodes will continue to live and reproduce as long as there are hosts and no insecticides or freezing weather reaches 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, containers, lawn, pasture or anywhere that there is soil and plants! I have even applied them to a living wall with great success. They work for indoor plants as well. UV light will kill the nematodes, so apply at dawn or dusk, when sunlight is not direct. It is important to have moist soil, so give a light watering to the area before and after the nematode application.

Having used beneficial nematodes for an extended time, I can definitely attest to their effectiveness of honing in and killing soil born larvae in many situations and landscapes. Most of them come refrigerated and must be kept chilled and used within a month. There are different types of nematodes, so do some research and make sure you purchase the correct nematodes for your problem. You will also find charts to help decide how many you will need for the area you wish to treat.

Even the tiniest of critters can have an impact on your landscaping, but with beneficial nematodes you can fight nature with nature and keep your plants living their greenest life!