Ten big (and surprising) facts about tiny nematodes, the invisible workforce in our gardens

The UK’s leading supplier of biological pest controls for domestic gardeners reports this Spring that nematodes now account for a quarter of all slug control in our gardens.

Nematodes are microscopic worms found naturally in the soil and scientists at BASF, which runs the UK’s only nematode production facility, are experts in identifying different species of these 2mm-long creatures to tackle different pests.

In the 25 years since its brand Nemaslug was created specifically to target slugs, three million packs have been sold to British gardeners.   The equivalent of 120,000 square km of the UK – that’s half our total land mass – has been sprinkled with 37 trillion tiny worms, intent on tackling slugs.

To mark the 25th anniversary of Nemaslug, here are ten amazing things you never knew about nematodes and possibly didn’t even think of asking:

  • Nematode means ‘thread like’ in Greek. They were first identified in 1758 and there are around 25,000 known species, although there could be over a million.
  • Visible best through a microscope, they outnumber all other animals on Earth in both individual number and number of species.
  • They are found in fresh water, saltwater, underground in mines, at mountain tops and in polar regions. They’ve even been identified on beer mats.
  • There are 60 billion nematodes for every human on Earth.
  • Thirty-five species have been discovered on human bodies but most live in the top 15cm of soil.
  • The most famous nematode, C. Elegans, found in compost, was the first organism to have its entire genome sequenced. It made headlines when specimens were found to have survived the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003.
  • Nematodes are essential in the nitrogen cycle and for regulating the decomposition of organic matter.
  • One species of nematode is known to control mosquitos by eating their larvae. In theory, this method could be used to prevent the spread of malaria. In practice, though, it is incredibly hard to reach all the random areas where mosquito larvae grow.
  • It is likely that nematodes will adapt to climate change far better than we can. As species move north, migrating pests will bring new nematode populations with them. This means they potentially carry north the seeds of their own destruction.
  • Nematodes attack the pest by entering natural body openings and releasing bacteria which help them consume it from the inside.

Along with slugs (in the form of product Nemaslug), BASF’s Nemasys range of products tackle vine weevil, leatherjackets, chafer grubs, ants, carrot and cabbage root fly, sciariad flies, caterpillars, thrips and codling moths.

Nemaslug and other Nemasys products arrive in the form of a fibrous paste. The nematodes are still alive so must be used within three days. The gardener should mix them with water (according to pack instructions) and sprinkle them over the affected areas. The tiny creatures will then do their job before dying away naturally. They are organic and gardeners with children or pets can use them with absolute confidence.

Download Nematodes Today here:  https://bit.ly/2xPdOYX

Nemaslug and Nemasys can be purchased online from www.greengardener.co.uk , www.gardening-naturally.co.uk, www.marshalls.co.uk and other quality garden product distributors.

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