Workshop on Important Arthropod Pests of the Caribbean Basin Amenable to Biological Control: Homoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera: Potential for Biological Control of Soil Insects in the Caribbean Basin Using Entomopathogenic Nematodes

John L. Capinera, Nancy D. Epsky


The numerous species and geographic isolates of entomopathogenic nematodes have a diversity of biological attributes which make them adaptable to many uses, especially management of soil pests. Entomopathogenic nematodes are viable substitutes for soil insecticides due to wide host range, persistence, mobility, safety, ease of application, and absence of registration restrictions. Efficacy is often comparable to chemical insecticides, which tend not to perform well in soil. Although soil is generally a very suitable habitat for nematodes, abiotic and biotic constraints are serious impediments in some locales. Surveys should be conducted in Caribbean countries to identify pre-adapted strains. Recent advances have made nematodes more economic to produce, and storage life has been extended. Entomopathogenic nematodes are appropriate for the Caribbean Basin environment due to favorable soil, humidity and temperatures, occurrence of hosts throughout most of the year, and a high incidence of damage caused by coleopterans and lepidopterans--pests which are usually quite susceptible to infection. In vitro production methods, which require medium-level technology and low cost labor, may be particularly suitable for the Caribbean.

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