Nematodes

Nematode species in the families Steinernematidae (Steinernema spp., Neosteinernema spp.), Heterorhabditidae (Heterorhabditis spp.), and Mermithidae parasitize insects. Larvae of Steinernematidae carry the pathogenic bacteria, Xenorhabdus nematophilus and X. luminescens. Photorhabdus bacteria are carried by roundworms in the family Heterorhabditidae. These bacteria can enter the insect host and kill it within 24-48 h. The nematode larvae are free-swimming in water and infect the insect host by entering the mouth, anus, or spiracles. In the body cavity, the larvae release the bacteria. The nematode feeds on the bacteria cells and the decomposing tissues. When the substrate is exhausted, they leave the cadaver and seek a new host. Nematodes are environmentally safe and acceptable, and they are easily applied with standard spray nozzles. Limitations of the nematode-bacterium control strategy are that free water is necessary for their host-seeking behavior, and these animals are difficult to rear in mass cultures. The nematode Deladenus siricidicola sterilizes the wood wasp, Sirix noctilio, and has been successfully used to reduce wood wasp populations in pine (Pinus radiata) tree plantations in Australia.

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