0227 A 30-year effort to develop the mole cricket nematode product, Nematac S®

Sunday, November 16, 2008: 2:30 PM
Room D10, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Norman C. Leppla , Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Jennifer L. Gillett , Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Eda Reinot , Becker Underwood, Ames, IA
Periodically, outbreaks of alien invasive mole crickets (Scapteriscus spp.) (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae) destroy seedlings in conventional and organic vegetable crops. The entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema scapterisci Nguyen and Smart (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae), was imported from Uruguay in 1985 and its use patented by the University of Florida for controlling these pests. An exclusive license was granted to Becker Underwood for producing and selling the nematode as the biological control product, Nematac S. This nematode infects only Scapteriscus spp. mole crickets, none of which occur naturally in the U.S., so it is safe to release. The nematode product was applied and evaluated in Florida and Puerto Rico in sandy and clay loam soils in turf and an organic garden. It persisted in both kinds of irrigated soils, spread rapidly, induced high levels of infection, and killed pest mole crickets. The nematodes can be applied in strips from which they will move to fill the gaps, thus reducing the cost to 1/8 as much as broadcast applications. Cattle, landscape, turf and allied industries, and the general public in Florida and Puerto Rico are benefiting greatly by using long-term, cost-effective biological control for minimizing the damage caused by Scapteriscus spp. mole crickets. Establishing natural enemies that recycle, leaving only periodic pest resurgence in isolated areas, can eliminate most of the damage caused by these pests. The cost and environmental risk of mole cricket biological control are much less than continued reliance on chemical insecticides. Moreover, use of Nematac S could be approved for organic farming.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.33930