Frequently asked questions about SuperNemos
What are nematodes?
Nematodes are very small, worm-like organisms which are found living naturally in the soil. They have been around since time began.
Why are SuperNemos nematodes considered to be beneficial?
SuperNemos nematodes attack and kill insects regarded to all growers of vegetables and plants as pests. They are safe to use since they do not endanger people, pets, or other desirable animals, even earthworms. Using living, natural biological control agents sustains and augments the natural soil diversity, conserving other beneficial organisms that make healthy soils.
Does SuperNemos attack beneficial insects?
No. SuperNemos nematodes are not part of the group that attacks beneficial insects. They belong to the vast majority that are saprophytic, meaning they break down organic materials adding to richness and tilth of soil and help to produce high quality compost (which is also beneficial to the soil).
How does SuperNemos work?
- SuperNemos nematodes are applied to the soil, where they live and locate their hosts. The nematode infective stage enters the insect and begins to feed on its blood and internal organs. Soon after it begins to feed, it releases unique bacteria that it carries internally. The bacteria infect the insect, reproduce quickly, and kill the insect within 30 to 48 hours.
- The nematode thrives upon this food which becomes a decaying insect being broken down by the unique bacteria.
- The nematode forms an adult stage and begins to produce thousands of eggs. These eggs mature and about 2-3 generations of nematodes are produced in the decaying insect. Reproduction continues until the nematodes sense that the decaying insect will not support further reproduction by the nematode.
- At that time, all of the nematode offspring mature only to the infective juvenile stage and begin to emerge from the host insect to look for more viable live insects to infect. The infective juvenile, IJ3, is the third nymphal stage of the nematode which has a double thick skin and which is best equipped to survive in nature until it can find a new host.
Are the bacteria in the nematode harmful to people or pets?
No. The bacteria and the nematode have what scientists call a "symbiotic" relationship. Neither can live without the other. The bacteria are not found in nature outside of the nematode or outside of the infected insect host of the nematode. Likewise, the nematode cannot live on insects alone, but must have food that is "digested" by the bacteria.
Are the bacteria always present in commercially produced nematodes?
"Yes" and "not always"! This is a very important quality control issue:
- Yes, if the nematodes are produced on live insect hosts. By producing nematodes on live insect hosts, the offspring always consume and store the bacteria produced by their parents in the host insect from which they emerge.
- Not always, if nematodes are produced by artificial fermentation on artificial media. When producing nematodes by artificial fermentation, the bacteria are cultured separately from the nematode, introduced to the media before bacteria-free nematode are introduced. If everything goes as it should, the offspring will contain the proper bacteria in the proper amounts. Under this kind of production, a major quality control operation is to test the quality of the bacteria and to test the product after production to assure that it contains the correct bacteria and an appropriate amount of bacteria.
What kind of equipment is needed to apply SuperNemos?
How are the nematodes handled in preparation for application?
- SuperNemos are kept refrigerated at the store, and should be stored in a cool place when delivered or taken home from the store. They are best applied as soon as possible to moist soil and in the evening. It is important to keep the nematodes out of direct sunlight and cool until they are applied. They should be stored in the refrigerator or a cold box between 2-5°C from time of receipt until they are being prepared for application.
- Nematodes will settle to the bottom of applicator tanks or in stock solutions (see the How to Use section) so it is very important to agitate, shake or stir the tank every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure that the nematodes are uniformly suspended in the water.
- Nematodes can drown, so it is important to make sure that the entire volume of spray in a tank is applied without delay.
- Nematodes can safely tolerate a pH range from 5 to 9, but be careful of use of highly sulfonated water that depletes the oxygen upon its first exposure to the air. They can be tank-mixed with many insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, and soil amendments. Normal chlorine amounts found in drinking water do not harm the nematodes.
How are nematodes applied in commercial situations?
- Commercial sprayers with by-pass pressure regulation provide very good agitation of the water and do not require shaking or further agitation. Nematodes are very hardy and can safely tolerate 100 to 150 pounds of pressure, but they can be damaged if pumped through filter screens that have mesh sizes smaller than 30 microns. For the best results, remove all filter screens.
- Nematodes can be safely applied through irrigation systems but it is essential in overhead application that the irrigation cycle is completed at night and that a subsequent watering cycle is applied to wash down foliage to ensure the nematodes are not exposed to sunlight.
- For the best results, nematodes should be applied as close as possible to the base of the plant; when considering the best method growers should consider the 'rail shadow' caused by mature plants where lance and fan jet provide the most echonomical and effective solution for application.