How to Isolate Entomopathogenic Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic soil dwelling worms, which are often pests to many crops. There are several different types of nematodes that can infect different organisms. For example, they can be plant parasitic and insect parasitic (entomopathogenic). This particular technique describes how to take nematodes from the soil and use them as a form of organic pest management. Nematodes can be used by home gardeners who are experiencing crop damage from pests such as garden slugs to isolate and rear nematodes. These nematodes can go on to infect insect and snail pests of your garden.

Steps

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    Use the hand shovel to collect a sample of soil.
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    Fill the small plastic sealable container to about halfway with the soil sample you collected.
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    Next, drop about 5 or 6 wax worm larvae into the plastic container and allow it to incubate at room temperature for one week.
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    After the incubation period remove the wax worms from the soil container and place them in the small Petri disk lined with a sheet of filter paper.
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    Moisten the filter paper with a few drops of distilled water.
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    Half-fill the larger Petri dish with distilled water and place the smaller Petri dish into it. (This should resemble a moat-like design)
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    Incubate the dishes for one week.
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    After a week the nematodes will have emerged and will be visible in the water of the larger Petri dish.
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    Remove the small Petri dish.
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    Pour the nematode solution from the large Petri dish into the large sealable bottle.
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    Fill the large sealable bottle with distilled water and refrigerate for one week. This allows the nematodes to reproduce.

Tips

  • If you are unfamiliar with wax worms, they can be purchased at a local pet store. This technique can take a few weeks to complete.
  • Note: After isolating nematodes, you can spray them onto plants and garden soil. The nematodes will actively prey on available insect hosts in the garden

Warnings

  • Safety: There are no significant risks when isolating nematodes. However, gloves can be worn to avoid touching the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand shovel
  • Small plastic sealable container
  • Wax worm larvae (Galleria mellonella),
  • Distilled water,
  • Large Petri dish
  • Small Petri dish
  • Petri dish filter paper
  • Large sealable bottle

Sources and Citations

  • I would like to acknowledge Dr. Daniel Gruner ,associate professor, at the University of Maryland College Park who taught me this method.

Article Info

Categories: Garden Pests and Weeds