Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How to Naturally Kill Grubs, Fleas, and Fungus Gnats with Beneficial Nematodes

Japanese beetle grubs decimated our “easy to care for landscaping” shortly after we bought our condo because our builder planted the entire neighborhood with plants that attract Japanese Beetles.  Our final solution was to rip out every bush and plant in the yard and let it lay fallow for a year. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.

Dang it. They’re back.

Commercial grub killers from the big box store do not work for me which I only tired as a last resort. I was leery of what the "90% OTHER INGREDIENTS" listed on the label actually were next to the warning about not using the stuff around kids, dogs, and fish ponds.  So, yeah. I'm glad it didn't work.





The only thing that worked was using the all natural and non toxic people and pet safe organic grub killing combo of Milky Spore powder and Beneficial nematodes. (Disclosure: I am including a few affiliate links in this post for your convenience because I couldn’t find any of these items for sale locally and figure you might be in the same boat too.)
 
Beneficial nematodes are a type of roundworm that feed on insects while leaving people, animals, and plants alone (unlike other roundworm species.) They area lazy gardener’s BFF because you mix the the little critters with water, apply them once during cool Spring or Fall weather (nematodes will die if you apply them on a hot summer’s day,) and let them chow down on any of the following in your bad bug garden buffet for the rest of the growing season:
  • Algae gnats
  • Apple leaf roller
  • Army worms
  • Banded cucumber beetle
  • Bark beetle
  • Bean leaf roller
  • Bess beetle
  • Billbugs
  • Black fly
  • Boll weevil
  • Borers
  • Cabbage looper
  • Cabbage worm
  • Cane weevil
  • Carpenter moth
  • Cockroach
  • Click beetle
  • Codling moth
  • Colorado potato beetle
  • Corn earworms
  • Corn root weevil
  • Cutworms
  • Earwig
  • European corn borer
  • Fall army worm
  • Field cricket
  • Flea beetle
  • Fleas
  • Fruit fly
  • Grasshoppers
  • Gypsy moth
  • Horn worm
  • House fly maggots
  • Imported fire ant
  • Iris borer
  • Japanese beetle
  • June beetle
  • Leaf beetle
  • Leaf miner
  • Leather jackets
  • Leather skeletonizer
  • Meal worm
  • Meal moth
  • Measuring worm
  • Melon worm
  • Mexican bean beetle
  • Mormon cricket
  • Onion borer
  • Oriental fruit moth
  • Pear aphids
  • Pear weevil
  • Pine beetle
  • Red bugs
  • Rice weevil
  • Round headed borers
  • Sawflies
  • Scarab beetle
  • Seed corn maggot
  • Sod webworm
  • Southern pine beetle
  • Southern root worm
  • Sow bugs
  • Spruce budworm
  • Squash bugs
  • Sting bugs
  • Strawberry root weevil
  • Termites
  • Thrips
  • Tobacco budworm
  • Tobacco hornworm
  • Webworms
  • White fringed beetle
  • White grubs
  • Winter moth
  • Wireworm
  • Wood borers
  • Yellow fever mosquito


How to Easily Apply Nematodes to Your Lawn and Garden



I had to buy beneficial nematodes from Amazon.  Since what I really bought are live nematode eggs, they arrived with a little reusable ice pack to keep them cold during shipping and delivery and recommend you put the container in the refrigerator as soon as they arrive on your door step. They are kinda like having an army of  sea monkeys that actually do something useful after you wake them up by soaking them in water.

Experts suggest that apply beneficial nematodes to your yard and garden in the evening. I lucked out and time my application after dinner during a small break in between two spring thunderstorms.


1. You have to rehydrate them for 30 minutes in non chlorinated water (the chlorine in city water may kill them) before you apply them to the soil.

If you have well water, rain barrel water, or water filter that filters out chlorine out of your tap water you’re golden. If not, fill a large bucket ( s ) with tap water outside in the sun for two days to let the chlorine off gas from the tap water.

2. Nematodes like it wet. Water the soil with plain water first.

3.Mix approximately 1/4 teaspoon of nematodes for half gallon of water you will use to apply them to you garden. The watering can I used to add nematodes to my garden holds two gallons of water. I mixed 1 teaspoon of beneficial nematodes powder into my watering can, set it sit for 20 – 30 minutes to allow the eggs to separate from the packing material (basically I set the thing sit while I did Step 2.)

The amount of beneficial nematodes and water may vary from the amounts I listed here depending upon the size of the package you bought and the area you need to cover. The amounts should be listed on the package.

If you do not want to use a watering can, you can remove the filter screens from a garden sprayer and use that.

4. Stir the the nematodes that have sunk to the bottom of your watering vessel before you apply them by watering your yard and garden.

Depending upon the size of your yard or garden you may need to repeat Steps 1 through 4 several times to teat the entire area.

5. Water the nematode and water solution into the soil with plain water. If you skip this step, you risk killing the nematodes. I lucked out and was able to time my application right before it rained. Thanks Mother Nature for completing this step for me!

It’s as easy as that!

Beneficial nematodes and milky spore are a little more expensive than the commercial pesticides you buy at the big box stores. I think they are totally worth it  even if I weren’t into more natural and organic gardening methods. I don’t have to worry if Lacey tears through the yard or garden after a bird unlike a commercial pesticide.
 
 Why did you make me go inside? 
I only wanted to hug the little birdies in our yard - with my mouth.

 
 The big bonus for me is I only have to put them down once a year (or less) because I forget to reapply things after it rains.

Worth. It.

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