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Guts of the Natural Organic Pest Control Program Newsletter



Release trichogramma wasps & nematodes

The Basic Organic Program is: 1. Stop using the destructive products. 2. Start using materials that build the life in the soil. 3. Use soft pest control techniques.

The most important part of soft pest control is the release of beneficials. The two beneficials that everyone, at least every gardener, should release as the foliage emerges in spring are trichogramma wasps and beneficial nematodes. They are easy to use and it’s time to release. These microscopic wasps will control various caterpillars and the nematodes will control a host of pest insects that have at least one of their life cycles in the ground - which most do.

Trichogramma wasps are released as a preventative for the control of canker worms, greenworms, loopers, armyworms, pecan casebearers, tent caterpillars, webworms and other vegetarian worms. They must be put out before the pests hatch and start eating. During early leaf emergence is perfect timing.

These living tools can be purchased at organic garden centers, feed stores and ordered online. The 1” cards contain about 3000 moth eggs. Larger strips have more wasps. Simply pin the cards or strips on tree trunks or on fences or use twist ties to hang in plants. The almost microscopic wasps emerge from the sandpaper looking moth eggs and fly off to parasitize and destroy other pest eggs.

If the wasps are dead or have been eaten by fire ants, they won’t work. Vaseline on the nail or pin used to mount the cards or strips will prevent any existing fire ants from getting to the eggs. They will eat them like jelly beans if present and have access. Dry molasses usually runs fire ants off the property. Use it or other organic techniques to control the ants.

Nematodes control insect pests by entering through the mouth or body openings; once inside the host, they feed, reproduce and release other organisms until the pest is dead. New nematodes emerge in search of new victims. The most commonly available beneficial nematodes include Steinernema carpocapsae and Hederohabditis spp. An early application prior to heavy pest infestations, followed by monthly applications, is the ideal schedule when pest infestations are present. Once balance is reached, no more releases are necessary.

Beneficial nematodes can be purchased in dry or wet formulations. They can be stored for short periods of time at 42°F in the refrigerator. Beneficial nematodes can be purchased and used to control armyworms, cabbage loopers, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, rootworms, cutworms, grubs, and other soil inhabiting pests.

The sources for trichogramma wasps and nematodes are the insectories around the country. Here is a list of some of them: Beneficial Bug Sources
Here are some other useful resources from

To discuss this newsletter or any other topic, tune in each Sunday 8am - 11am central time to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The call-in phone number is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or click here to find a station in your area.

Please share this newsletter with everyone in your address book and all your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help me spread the word on organics.

Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett


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