Are Beneficial Nematodes Effective for Controlling Termites

Are Beneficial Nematodes Effective for Controlling Termites?

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It’s important to consider your termite control options the moment you first notice an infestation. Prompt action is the key to getting the problem under control before it spirals out of hand.

One of the safest and most effective methods of termite control is the use of beneficial nematodes. These microscopic roundworms seek out and enter termites and other insects. They then feed on them parasitically until they die.

Beneficial nematodes are an all-natural way to control termites that doesn’t put you or your family at risk.

About Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are naturally-occurring microscopic roundworms. They live in a variety of habitats around the world.

Nematodes are so effective at household pest control because of a gut bacterium they contain. Once the nematode enters the pest (through the mouth, anus, or body wall), it releases this symbiotic gut bacterium. The bacterium poisons the blood of the pest, quickly causing it to die.

Why Are Nematodes Beneficial?

The benefits of nematodes are numerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly. They include:

  • 100% Natural – Nematodes don’t negatively affect humans, pets, or plants. This is the opposite of other common methods of termite control like fumigation and poisoning.
  • Effective – Nematodes are among the most effective methods of termite control. They don’t stop working after killing just one termite. Instead, the feed and multiply inside the dying pest before moving on to others.
  • Long-Lasting – A small batch of nematodes will prove effective for a long time. The creatures breed and multiply after first application, ensuring they’ll keep killing termites for weeks on end.
  • Fast-Acting – Nematodes kill termites in as little as 24 hours. It’s rare that the process takes anything longer than 48 hours.
  • Kill Other Pests – The pest control benefits of nematodes aren’t just limited to termites. They also kill a variety of other common household pests.

How Do Beneficial Nematodes Work?

Beneficial nematodes are parasitic roundworms. As mentioned above, they enter the host insect’s body (in our case, a termite) and immediately begin feeding on it. During feeding, bacteria is released from the nematode’s gut. The termites suffer from blood poisoning caused by the bacteria and quickly die.

Once the termite is dead and completely consumed, the nematodes move on to their next victim. The whole time they’re breeding and multiplying. Not only do nematodes help control invasive termite populations, they also help keep other common household pests at bay.

Are Beneficial Nematodes Effective Against Termites?

Yes, nematodes are very effective against termites.

In fact, they’re arguably the most effective method of natural termite control. They kill and dispose of termites through the process outlined above. When all termites and other pests have been killed, nematodes die and biodegrade in the soil.

Beneficial nematodes are as effective against German cockroaches, flies, ants, and fleas as they are against termites.

Nematode Application, Handling, and Storage

Yet another highlight of beneficial nematodes is how easy they are to use.

Though there are several methods of application, the easiest is to mix them with water and then apply with a spray bottle.

Simply dump your beneficial nematodes into a bucket of water. Stir the water to mix the nematodes up. Let the solution sit for a few minutes before putting it into your spray bottle.

Spray any area where you’ve seen termites. Focus on your yard and garden as this is where termites tend to originate. Your beneficial nematodes will quickly spread from the termites in your garden to the termites in your home. Be sure to spread the solution evenly over all surfaces.

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Sometimes nematodes have difficulty initially establishing themselves in a new environment. Counteract this by spraying termite-infested areas once daily for at least two weeks. This will ensure that all termites and their eggs are exterminated.

Though these are the basic guidelines for using beneficial nematodes, you should always follow specific packaging instructions carefully. Make sure to also follow handling and storage instructions to a T.

For storage, you can safely store most nematodes inside a refrigerator. Do not store them in a freezer. Use the nematodes within one month of receiving them for the best results. Never store your nematodes in your mixing bucket or spray bottle.

Avoid the use of fertilizers for at least two weeks after applying nematodes. The creatures are susceptible to damage from most fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen content. If you want your nematodes to kill off your termite infestation, it’s best to hold off on fertilizing until later.

The Best Beneficial Nematodes

Not all nematodes are created the same. There are different species and varieties available. It’s important to be on the lookout for those are actually effective for controlling termites.

Look for nematodes that are being sold specifically for termite control. Though they’ll likely still prove effective, those being sold to combat other household pests aren’t your best bet.

It’s also important to order nematodes for delivery to your home. Nematodes simply don’t last for very long in storage. There’s a chance that nematodes bought from a store are dying or already dead. Don’t waste your money on these.

Find a reputable supplier of nematodes. It’s almost always best to pay a little extra for a higher quality product. Not only are these nematodes more effective, they’ve likely been treated better during storage.

Hiring a Professional

Applying nematodes for termite control by yourself is almost always effective. Only in rare circumstances, should you hire the help of a pest control professional.

The circumstance in which you should do so is a severe infestation. Your pest control professional will use special application techniques to make sure the nematodes are as effective as possible. They might also combine beneficial nematodes with other termite control techniques.

Other Termite Control Options

There are a variety of other pest control options to try if killing termites with nematodes fails.

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Though beneficial nematodes are highly effective at controlling termites, there are certain situations in which they just don’t do the job. If this is the case, the following termite control methods might prove more effective:

  • Remove Food Sources – The easiest way to control termites is to take away their food sources. Home termite infestations often stem from termites feeding on dead trees or piles of wood. Remove these to eliminate the beginning point of an infestation.
  • Install a Barrier – Make it more difficult for termites to enter your home. Install screens and caulk any cracks. Installing a barrier of sand or wet cardboard around your home will also help ward termites off.
  • Use Chemical Treatment – Chemical treatments are sometimes more effective than natural treatments like nematodes. However, they’re also more dangerous to the health of humans, pets, and plants. Follow the instructions exactly to ensure your family’s safety.
  • Hire a Pro – Hire a pest control company that specializes in termite extermination. Find one that will use the latest chemical treatments in favor of nematodes.

Your Termite-Free Home

Termites can cause an incredible amount of damage to your home when given the chance. So don’t give them that chance.
Take action at the first sign of infestation. If using a natural method of pest control is important to you, beneficial nematodes are your number one bet.

Beneficial nematodes will effectively nip your termite infestation in the bud. They will kill of all termites and other pests without negatively affecting your family.

Beneficial nematodes seek out and kill all stages of harmful soil-dwelling insects. They can be used to control a broad range of soil-inhabiting insects and above-ground insects in their soil-inhabiting stage of life. More than 200 species of insect pests from 100 insect families are susceptible to these insect predators.

They are a natural and effective alternative to chemical pesticides, and have no detrimental affect on non-target species such as ladybugs, earth worms and other helpful garden insects.Finally, there is no evidence that parasitic nematodes or their symbiotic bacteria can develop in vertebrates. This makes nematode use for insect pest control safe and environmentally friendly. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled that nematodes are exempt from registration because they occur naturally and require no genetic modification by man.

Beneficial nematodes can be applied anytime during the year when soil-dwelling insects are present and soil tempertures are above 52-F during the day. Beneficial nematodes seek out and kill over 200 pest insects in the soil. They are a natural effective alternative to chemical pesticides.

Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora Nematodes (HB)

Are most effective against Japanese Beetles, Grubs, Weevils, and many other target pests in lawn and garden. They burrow down in the soil to a depth of 7″, have shown superior host-seeking abilities in looking for deep soil- dwelling pests.

Target pests include: Cucumber Beetle, Grubs, Gall midge, Strawberry Rootweevil, May/June Beetle, Masked Chafer, Cranberry Rootworm, Flea, Scarab and Japanese beetles, Straw- berry Root and Black-vine Weevils, Chafer, Squash Bugs, Leaf Beetles, Termite, Cutworms, White Grubs, Algae Gnats, Black Fly, Potato Tubeworm, Meal Worm, Bark Beetle, Corn Root Weevil, Fire Ant, sting Bugs, Pine Beetle, Gall Gnats, Gypsy Moth, Corn Root Worm, Billbug, Colorado Potato Beetle, Thrips, Ants and termites (apply directly to mound and nest areas),and many other deep soil dwelling insects.

They are highly efficent when the pest is more widely dispersed in the soil because they have a “tooth” to rupture the insect’s skin and enter through the insect’s body wall and openings.

Steinernema Carpocapse Nematodes (SC)

Kills pre-adult fleas in the yard, and pet run areas and soil. It’s most effective against flea larvae and caterpillars in lawns, garden soil, and under trees where larvae pupate. They stay near the surface waiting to ambush surface dwelling pests. Steinernema is the most widely researched species for insect control. It is the most readily available for yard and Garden use because it is easier to rear and handle. In field applications, Steinernema carpocapsae tend to be most effective against caterpillar larvae. In laboratory and field trials, it has controlled sod webworms, cutworms and certain borers (raspberry crown borer, carpenter worm). It also has been effective against billbug larvae in Colorado State University trials. Other research indicates that adult billbugs may be controlled as well. Steinernema are less effective against white grubs, root maggots, rootworms and black vine weevil. Unfortunately, some commercial products make claims of effective control of some pest species based on research conducted solely in artificial environments; these often do not reflect performance in the field.

Target pests include: Fleas, Dog and cat flea larvae, Codling Moth, Cutworm, Armyworm, Leafminer, Bluegrass billbugs, termites, ants, Sod Webworm, Mole Cricket, some caterpillar pests, Billbug, Flies, ArmyWorms, Loopers, European Crane Fly, Cranberry Girdler and many other surface dwellers.

Steinernema Feltiae Nematodes (SF)

Are the most effective against larval control of several fly species (sciaridae, phoridae, leaf miners, domestic fly and also of some moth larvae. They patrol the top 3″ of the soil.

Target pests include: Fungus Gnat, Mushroom Flies, Fruit Flies, Flea Beetles, Saw Flies, Tachina Flies, Crane Flies, Shore Flies and fruit flies.

They are effective against some plant parasitic nematodes, particularly root-knot nematodes.

“Green” Method for Killing Termites – Nematodes

While termites are invading many houses, the owners of these houses are trying to find a perfect way of fighting with them. Termites may cause serious house damages and property owners will have to pay a lot of money in order to cover the losses.

The problem is that it is really hard to eliminate termite colonies completely. In addition to this, not all house owners may afford calling a professional pest control service. Furthermore, it is also very important to remember about humans’ health; that is why “green” methods are very popular among house owners.

Nematodes are in the list of “green” methods, but the effectiveness of this method is a serious question which should be answered. Let’s see how to use nematodes for killing termites.

What are nematodes and how do they work?

Beneficial nematodes are special microscopic roundworms.

These roundworms have natural occurrence; that is why nematodes are in the list of “green” methods against termites.

Unlike the majority of other methods which are used against termites, nematodes are 100 percent safe for humans, pets, plants and the environment.

Nematodes can be all over the world; that becomes the reason of their relatively low price (roundworms can be easily found in the store).

Beneficial nematodes are very popular as pest controllers because of special bacteria which they contain (that is why they are called “beneficial”). These bacteria are called gut bacteria. Like any other parasite nematodes can stay alive while they have “main body” (here it is a termite).

So, how does nematode kill termites?

Nematode penetrates termite body and poisons it with gut bacteria. Bacteria poison termite blood and after a while (killing process usually takes less than 24 hours, but no more than 48 hours) termite dies.

How to use nematodes for termite control?

Beneficial nematodes are very easy in use and there are several methods of application. The easiest way is to mix nematodes with water. As far as nematodes are microscopic roundworms, it will be really easy to mix them with water.

You will need just several things:

You will have to make the bowl full of water and add nematodes to water.

Then stir the mixture with a stick (or something similar) and let the mixture stay for several minutes.

Add the mixture to the spraying bottle and apply in the areas where you noticed termite presence.

Make sure that sprayer has maximum pressure (that will help to avoid blockage). Also, you will have to shake the sprayer after a while: that will help to prevent nematodes from sinking to the bottom.

Termites like moisture and the majority of them come from the outside; that is why it is very important to start application process from the backyard.

Do not be afraid if you have termites in the house, when nematodes finish killing termites outside, they will move to the house. You will also have to be sure that you spread the solution to all infected areas and surfaces.

You have to pay your attention to the fact that sometimes it may be difficult for nematodes to start living in new environment; that is why you will have to spray nematodes once in a day for a week or two.

By doing this you will be sure that nematodes will fight with termites. It will be also a good idea to have a look if you have any dead termites: this will be the sign of nematodes activity.

Nematodes are very special roundworms and they cannot be applied during the day because they are afraid of sunlight and heat. That is why you will need to place nematodes early in the morning or after the sunset. In addition, the temperature of the ground should not be lower than 60⁰F, otherwise nematodes die.

If you decide to apply nematodes without spraying bottle (just from the package), you will have to irrigate soil first. When you finish application process, irrigate the soil again (the soil must be moist).

The producers keep nematodes as dry granules, powders, etc. This type of storage makes it easy to dissolve nematodes in water and conduct the application process.

Are nematodes effective against termites?

It is a very good question because even the most effective natural methods against termites do not give 100 percent warranty.

Beneficial nematodes are very effective and do not stop until they eliminate the whole colony. Breeding and multiplying processes help raising nematodes effectiveness.

Furthermore, when nematodes finish killing termites they can start killing other insects (if they find some). As far as nematodes are natural roundworms, they biodegrade in the soil after dying.

This is a good thing for those who worry about the environment. Nematodes stay effective for a long time and high killing speed makes these worms the most efficient natural remedy.

Here you can learn more information about termite bait systems: Advance, Green, CSIRO, Nemesis, Exterra, Firstline, Terminate. Also find out how to make baits by yourself and how to refill them?

How to choose and store nematodes?

It will be also a good idea to ask for a delivery to your house from the store. As far as nematodes need special conditions for staying alive, you will have to apply them really fast, or store them in special conditions.

If you still can’t start application process immediately, you will have to store beneficial nematodes in the fridge (but not in the freezer, otherwise they will die). Do not forget that nematodes should be stored in the initial package. That means that you cannot make the spraying mixture and put it in the fridge – nematodes will die.

Also, when you buy beneficial nematodes, read label instructions carefully, because this will help you with the application and storage process.

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Helpful video

How to apply Beneficial Nematodes:

Final decision

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms which belong to natural remedies against termites. Nematodes are completely safe to humans, pets, plants and the environment. These roundworms are believed to be very effective against termites and have fast-acting and long-lasting effect.

Of course, nematodes cannot be used as a protective measure against termites, but they serve as an effective killer of termites and other insects.

Nematodes are easy in application but need to have special conditions for storage.

Furthermore, they do not like light and heat; that is why they have to be applied early in the morning or after sunset. The temperature of the soil matters as well.

Also, nematodes can kill termites not only around your house, but they move inside and eliminate the threat inside as well.

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