Insect-killing Nematodes Offer Plant Defense against Colorado Potato Beetles

Entomologists from Texas A&M University and Penn State University explored how Colorado potato beetles and potato plants responded to the presence of entomopathogenic nematodes, insect-killing nematodes. They found that female Colorado potato beetles laid fewer eggs when entomopathogenic nematodes were present in the soil, while the potato plant increased its defenses. The study concluded that growers can experience additional benefits from using entomopathogenic nematodes for biological control of insect pests, beyond the nematodes’ predation on beetles during phases of their life when they’re in contact with soil. “Not only are the EPNs directly killing insect pests in the soil, they also produce chemical cues that provide additional protection to plants,” study leader Anjel Helms said. “They deter herbivores and enhance plant resistance to pests.”