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Whatís Nematodes Got To Do With It?

By: Jessica Kaplan

While itís cold and snowy on the Stony Brook campus, itís a warm 75 F in the R&D Greenhouse! Flowers are popping up daily and bringing color to the dreary winter that has swept across Long Island. Although the greenhouse has encountered some minor setbacks, environmentally friendly remedies are putting us back on track! Petunias and Pansies were some of the first to show off their vibrant pinks, reds, and purples!

You would think now that we have some beautiful flowers the work is done and we can sit back and watch each plant grow stronger everyday - wrong. Fungus Gnats happened. It may be hard to believe that behind those stunning colors, gnat larvae are slowly eating away at the root system and taking vital nutrients from the plant. Cue the nematodes! Many of you may be imagining the ravaging nematodes that attack Bikini Bottom in the Spongebob Squarepants cartoons, but thankfully that isnít what weíre dealing with here.

Nematodes Beneficial Nematodes ( or Steinernema feltiae) will be moving into the greenhouse. These tiny, naturally occurring worms are going to be the flowers' best friend. Once we apply the 150 million nematodes diluted with water directly onto the plants, they will go searching for the fungus gnat larvae. When a nematode finds a larvae it will enter the body and multiply, releasing a symbiotic bacterium that will kill the larvae from the inside. Sounds gross and creepy, I know, but these little nematodes are going to protect the plants from being harmed by the fungus gnats. Another advantage of the beneficial nematodes? Theyíre a biological control- safer than chemicals! Instead of applying a pesticide to the plants, the nematodes act as a natural remedy!

The nematodes will be applied every couple of weeks to make sure the gnats donít become a problem again. Exciting things happening at the R&D greenhouse! Weíre looking forward to new color and of course, spring!

Want more information on beneficial nematodes?
Check out these great sources!
Biological Control Using Beneficial Nematodes
Nemasys Advanced Biocontrol for Fungus Gnats

Tags: Grow Red

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