Use of Entomoparasitic Nematodes (EPANs) in Biological Control

  • Zdenek Mracek


Nematodes and insects can be considered as the most successful groups of invertebrate organisms in the nature. Nematodes have colonized all type of ecosystems (excluding the air ecosytem where they may occur only as phoretic organisms) and a wide range of different habitats. In contrast to insects they inhabite even salt sea water. Nematodes are categorized as being free-living in marine, freshwater, and soil ecosystems and as parasites of plants and animals. A large group of nematodes is specialized for parasitism of insects. Relationships between nematodes and insects vary from simple phoresis, symbiosis, and commensalism to facultative and obligate parasitism. Nematode parasites either kill or seriously damage, e.g. sterilizing their insect hosts. Target pest resurgence and secondary pest outbreaks which result from the disruptive effects of chemical pesticides on natural enemies have caused increased interest in microbial control measures in pest management ecosystems. For such control, entomoparasitic nematodes (EPANs) offer promise as easily manipulated mortality factors against insect pests. Of these, the most effective are entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) belonging to the families Heterorhabditidae and Steinernematidae. They were first used to decrease an outbreak of the Japanese beetle in the end of the 1930’s when Steinernema glaseri was introduced and colonized in New Jersey (Glaser and Farrell, 1935). However, they have become commercially available since 1970’s when the rearing artificial medium was successfully established. Of the nematodes associated with insects those belonging to the orders Mermithida, Aphelenchida, Tylenchida and Rhabditida have been most intensively studied. However, at present only the rhabditid genera Heterorhabditis and Steinernema are widely used for insect control due to their high and rapid infectivity and pathogenicity and easy manipulation. Others, out of those mentioned above, are difficult to culture on artificial media and their field introduction brings technical obstacles. Rhabditids are amenable to mass-rearing techniques, and in a high percentage of reported field experiments their utilization has resulted in increased parasitization levels, significant reduction in pest-population densities, and adequate plant protection.


Colorado Potato Beetle Entomopathogenic Nematode Infective Juvenile White Grub Japanese Beetle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zdenek Mracek
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Insect Pathology, Institute of EntomologyCzech Academy of SciencesEeske BudijoviceThe Czech Republic

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