Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lost Nematode

This nematode had lost its way and climbed five feet up to the top of our about-to-flower yucca. When we spotted it, it was wildly reaching for terra firma. I brought it back down to ground level, for it is a friendly creature welcome in the garden.

Organic Gardening says about nematodes:
Beneficial Nematodes
Slender, translucent, unsegmented worms, beneficial species of nematodes are 1/25 inch to several inches long. Their roles in the garden vary. Some are soil dwellers that break down organic matter and are common in compost piles. These decomposers are easily visible; they are about ¼ inch long.
Other nematodes (families Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae) attack and kill insects either by injecting bacteria (Xenorhabdus sp.) that kill the host within 24 to 48 hours or by entering the host, parasitizing, and feeding on it.

Beneficial nematodes are effective against a variety of pests, including weevils, clearwing borers, cutworms, sod webworms, chinch bugs, and white grubs. When purchasing and applying them, it is very important to select the right species of nematode, because different species are effective against different pests. In addition, nematodes require moist, humid conditions, and fairly warm soil to be most effective. Water application sites before and after spreading nematodes. When purchasing them, follow application directions carefully.

There are harmful nematodes that attack plant cells, cause heartworm in dogs, or can parasitize humans, but the vast majority are beneficial workers of the soil. 

That is not the message one gets if one visits the websites of biotec corporations devoted to killing nematodes, such as Pasteuria Bioscience. There and through Google searches, one finds words like investment, industry, asset class and acquisition. 

Small is more beautiful. Save the nematodes. 

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