My Parasitic Nematodes Have Arrived!

Two exciting packages arrived in the mail towards the end of this week – one of them contained my new batch of parasitic nematodes – Steinernema feltiae! As I wrote recently (see “Getting Rid of Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats“), I will testing these guys out (once again) too see how effective they are against gnats and fruit flies.

I am also aiming to see how long I can keep a culture of these nematodes going. Best case scenario, it would be fantastic if I was able to always have a supply of them available to put to use since what I found last time was that their effectiveness declined over time. For starters, I’m also going to ignore the warning in the instructions claiming that the nematodes will last 2 weeks in the fridge – I have a sneaking suspicion they will be just fine for a fair bit longer than that. Last time around I used all of them fairly quickly simply because I didn’t want to waste them.

I haven’t done much with them yet. I mixed up a small batch of nematode water and added it to my two fly farms as well as my particle-size-experiment bins (all seem to have a population of fungus gnats) just to get the ball rolling, but I will testing them out a lot more this coming week. One thing I’ve been doing is collecting other, larger maggots that sometimes occur in my bins (pretty sure they are stable fly larvae) – they are very few and far between, but I’ve been able to find 5 or 6 of them in the past couple of days during some harvesting sessions (getting orders ready for local customers).

These larger larvae should be great hosts from the nematodes, hopefully allowing me to produce a lot more of them, and also providing me with handy “vessels” for transferring them into a new system. I’ve also noticed some mid size maggots of some sort in my outdoor beds of coffee grounds (pretty funny little guys – they actually jump!) so I’m aiming to collect a lot of those before the weather gets too cold.
(man, I sure hope there is no bad karma for being mean to insect larvae! yikes!)

Anyway – I will certainly keep everyone posted!

OH…and as far as that other exciting package (that came in the mail) goes. Sit tight, you’ll be finding out ALL about that one very soon!

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    • John
    • October 23, 2011

    Alright Bentley…Quit teasing us with the other “exciting package.” As far as bad Karma goes, I think you’ll have nothing but good Karma for using God’s little creatures for their intended purposes…I have done a wee bit of research about beneficial nematodes but, as yet, I am still quite uninformed as to exactly what they are and what they can do. I really like the idea of biological “control” agents as opposed to chemical “solutions”…Please enlighten us.
    Mrs. Swininger’s worms are doin well. The students are still saving their banana peels and feeding them regularly;) Gotta love kids & worms!

  1. Bentley what was the price delivered to your door?

  2. JOHN – sorry! I know I tease too much! lol
    S. feltiae invades various types of fly larvae (and I think many soft bodied larvae in general), releases some sort of nasty bacteria inside the host which kills them – and then they feed and produce lots more nematodes. Pretty horrible – but it certainly does the trick. The challenge is getting them to work well in composting environments – lots more competition etc than in regular soil. The fact that passage through earthworm digestive system kills them certainly doesn’t help! lol


    MIKE – All said and done $38 and change – likely in the $40’s for you (if ordered from NIC here in Ontario).
    Not super cheap, but if I can create an ongoing culture it will definitely be worth it.

    • Melody Silverberg
    • October 26, 2011

    I used the beneficial nematodes and almost eliminated the gnats and flies in my bins. I find that the compost tea I collect contains large numbers of them, so if I have an infected bin, I recycle the tea and it seems to take care of them. I have also started freezing my produce trimmings, as I think that is how the pests were introduced in the first place. I had literally thousands of flies and gnats a day last summer, and now I only find 4-6 each day since using the nematodes. Hope they work for you

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