Steinernema (genus - entomopathogens)

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Steinernema scapterisci
Author: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, U.S.A.
Source:IPM Images

Steinernema Travassos, 1927

The species of this genus are important biocontrol agents against insect pests and are frequently used in pest management. The insect host is invaded by the juvenile stage of the nematode through the mouth and spiracles. The nematodes contain a specific species of entomopathogenic bacteria from the genus Xenorhabdus inside a bacterial chamber of the intestine which are released into the insect hemocoel.

The bacteria multiply in the insect and the nematodes feed on the bacteria and the digested insect tissue and in turn multiply inside its host. The nematodes kill the host usually within 2-3 days. After death of the insect, infective juveniles are released into the soil where they can survive for several months before infecting another host.

Compared to species of Heterorhabditis, the second most important genus of entomopathogenic nematodes, species of Steinernema are easier to rear and are, therefore, more frequently used in biological control programs. However, they may be less effective against certain insect groups. The nematodes are typically used at rates of 2-3 billion per hectare and can be applied in water and sprayed on the soil or on plants infested by the host insect using regular spray equipment.

Type species: Steinernema kraussei


See Nguyen and Smart, 1996 for a review of this genus.

Currently, the following species have been entered into the system: