Although fleas are small, they can be a real disturbance to both humans and pets.
Even though it is very true that most people do not develop acute symptoms from flea bites, these pests have greater potential to transmit diseases from one person to another.
Getting rid of fleas from your home is a cumbersome task. With hundreds of options to choose from, you may be confused about which one is very effective.
Unknown to many, nematodes have been credited by various scientists to not only prevent colonization and spread of fleas but also kill them.
What are Nematodes?
The nematode is a word coined from two Greek words “Nema” and “Toid”. Nema means thread while toid means form. The word refers to a phylum name for microscopic species of animals that are threadlike and measures approximately 0.1 mm in length.
The most common type of nematodes that are known to many is the intestinal roundworms. These parasitic nematodes are found in the body of human beings and other animals such as cows specifically in the stomach and intestines.
The phylum Nematoda consists of three categories of parasites namely:
1. Root-Knot Nematodes
Root-Knot nematodes are parasitic worms that infest garden plants in the soil. They normally feed on the plants’ roots hence impairing their nutrients and water uptake and their general health.
All Root Knot Nematodes belongs to the Genus Meloidogyne. They are numerous in numbers and even categorized into races.
2. Cyst Nematodes
Cyst nematodes are a frequent host of plant roots of family Solanaceae. They are categorized into three genera; Cactodera, Globodera and Heterodera. They live and get their nutrients from roots of plants such as potato, sugar, onion, beets and carrots.
3. Stem Nematodes
They get their names from the stem and necrotic parts of plants that they infest. Plants at risks of infections include onion, potatoes, flower bulbs and winter beans.
The most common types of disease associated with stem nematode are the onion bloat, popular to the United Kingdom.
4. Lesion Nematodes
Lesion nematodes infect primarily lesion causing a disease called root lesion. They belong to Tylenchida order. Other plans that are affected by this parasite include Maize, parsnips, carrots, and several other legumes.
5. Stubby Root Nematodes
Adesa popular best crops found mainly in States such as Florida. They belong to Trichodorus Genus. Affected routes usually become stunted with the stubby appearance.
Most common plants that are affected by the parasites include Potato, sugar, parsnips and carrots.
Which Nematodes Kill Fleas?
Not all nematodes kill fleas. Only one species of nematode called Steinernema carpocapsae and steinernema feltiae can be used to control fleas alongside other pests.
This entomopathogenic nematode has a natural insect-killing symbiosis. It uses natural bacterial symbionts as a potential weapon against its victim just some minutes from infection.
Upon noticing the presence of any of its potential victim, S.carpocapsae sits and waits for the arrival of the insects or pests. It sits upright and the moment it’s forager passes by, it sticks its tail on it and releasing the symbionts on its body.
This nematode is an effective control agent for pests such as ticks, ants, caterpillars and flea larvae found in the garden, lawns and under trees. It thrives well in areas with a temperature range between 22 to 28 degrees celsius.
How do You Release Beneficial Nematodes?
How you release beneficial nematodes in the host defines whether you will fail or win in your pest control journey. Usually, there is only one way on how to effectively release the beneficial nematodes.
The microscopic entamapathogenetic S. carpocapsae is non-segmented with naturally occurring beneficial bacteria inside its body. It is this bacteria that is released inside the host’s body to alter its body functioning and kills it. Normally, the whole process takes between 24 to 48 hours.
Beneficial nematodes have the potential to enter the insect’s body through openings such as mouth, anus and respiratory openings on the body walls.
Beneficial nematodes are very easy to release. Where you want to suppress the growth and kill a wide range of pests in your garden, you will be required to use a selection chart. This chart helps with determining the best type of nematode for the pests.
However, sterneinnerma species are found in two products–ecomask and scanmask. Ecomasks contains the steinernema carpocapsae while scanmask contains S. fleatiea. Both products work well to control fleas.
To release the beneficial nematodes from the two products. Simply spray your lawns and suspected areas with shades that signify the presence of flea larvae. Usually, the two products come with a nema-pack sprayer.
Are Nematodes Harmful to Pets?
Among the numerous benefits that come with the use of nematodes for pest control is their safety. You don’t even need to obtain a federal registration to use them over your pets. This safety is primarily based on how they exterminate fleas.
When you apply nematodes on the body of your pet, they will seek after fleas. The microscopic and multicellular worms will then enter the hosts’ bodies and release a special bacteria that exterminates them after 24-48 hours.
Having killed their host, the juvenile worms develop into adults (males and females or hermaphrodite). They will then reproduce in the dead host and produce other juveniles that will seek and kill other insects.
Pets do not develop any form of resistance to nematodes. As a result, they can stay on their bodies for even one week under a favourable condition without any itching or irritation.
Secondly, nematodes are very versatile. They can be used to control different types of pests over numerous kinds of pests.
Can You Use Nematodes Indoor?
Nematodes are overly safe for both human and pests health. They can be used in any place from the lawns to greenhouses and even indoors.
However, most beneficial nematodes work under a certain range of temperature. If the indoor temperature is too warm (more than 70 degrees centigrade), they will die before killing all the insects.
Additionally, their metabolism will be impaired. On the other hand, low temperatures such as during winter will also render them inactive or dead. So check and ascertain your indoor temperature before using them.
For excellent efficacy, you must use the worms immediately after purchase. So limited is their shelf-life that you may end up using dead nematodes if you store them for a while.
But in case you are not fully prepared to spray your worms in time, you can store them in a refrigerator. The parameters inside the refrigerator should be favourable to avoid the death of inefficiencies.
More importantly, you will not be able to see the dead insects over the pest’s body or in your lawn. As a result, you will not stand a better chance to measure the efficiency of your worms.
For better results, apply the worms repeatedly while making sure that all parameters (temperature and moisture contents) are at their peak.
Otherwise, the two types of nematodes will see you through an epic journey to fleas control and management.