Nematodes for Grubs - Knowledgebase Question

Lisle, IL
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Question by prupp
April 15, 1998
The lawn in my back yard is crawling with Japanese Beetle larvae. Not only are they eating tire sized holes in the lawn, but they are scaring my wife so bad that she won't go out there any more! My wife says to
"nuke" the backyard with pesticides, however, I wish to avoid pesticides, and a number of articles at your site describe the use of "beneficial" nematodes to control the problem. Regarding this issue, and before I proceed
with the treatment, I'm curious about the following:

1) I've heard that beneficial nematodes eat Grubs, which is ok, but I'm concerned if they decide to snack on everything else, including earth worms or people (remember, my wife's afraid of creepy crawleys)
I'm interested to find the range of food items that these namatodes prefer. I don't want my earthworms (or wife)

2) Where can I find the actual analysis and studies performed in this area (or a good place to start?)

Answer from NGA
April 15, 1998
Beneficial nematodes are naturally-occuring microorganisms; they feed on the larvae of many insect pests, including Japanese beetle grubs, root weevils, and cutworms. However, they will not harm earthworms or other beneficial creatures (including people!)--they are very specific to their lavae prey. Since they are microscopic, your wife won't even know they are there!

For more detailed reports on their effectiveness, I would contact BIRC, the Bio-Integral Resource Center, which is an organization that researches and educates on integrated pest management including biological controls like nematodes.

Congratulations on your decision to avoid strong chemical pesticides. By using beneficials like nematodes, you'll take care of the problems while promoting good soil health--and a healthy soil produces a healthy lawn.

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