2020 Biological Control paper: High potential for use of microbial agents against cat fleas

Samish M, Rot A, Gindin G, Ment D, Behar A, Glazer I (2020). Biocontrol of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, by entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi. Biological Control, 149:104301. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1049964418306479

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The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), is the most important ectoparasite of domestic pets. Its control is mainly based on chemical insecticides. In this study, the potential of fungi and nematodes to control this pest was evaluated. The various life stages of the cat flea were exposed to several variables: strains and species of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi at different ambient temperatures and levels of relative humidity (RH), as well as in\on filter paper, sand or carpet as substrates. The nematode Steinernema feltiae (Nematoda: Steinernematidae) was most virulent against flea larvae, cocoons and adults, and the nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Poinar (Rhabditida: Heterorhabditidae) was highly effective against flea cocoons on all substrates evaluated. Overall, the nematodes were most effective at 28o C and 95% RH. The fungus Metarhizium robertsii 2575 (Bischoff) (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae), was highly virulent against adult fleas. Flea eggs were resistant to both nematodes and the fungus evaluated. The results indicate high potential for use of microbial control agents against cat fleas. While the fungus, M. robertsii, could be effective in killing adult fleas on infested vertebrates, the nematodes S. feltiae and H. bacteriophora could be successful in controlling pre-imaginal stages on the soil.

1982 Journal of Nematology paper: Nematodes shown to be effective on cat fleas

Silverman J, Platzer E G, Rust M K (1982). Infection of the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) by Neoplectana carpocapsae Weiser. Journal of Nematology, Jul;14(3):394-7. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19295728/?


Infection of cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, larvae by the entomophilic nematode Neoaplectana carpocapsae was accomplished in the laboratory. The Breton strain of N. carpocapsae provided higher larval mortality at lower dosages than did the DD-136 strain. Adult nematodes were evident in the insect hemocoel after 48 h; however, no infective third-stage larvae were produced. Larval flea infection increased with an increase in the moisture content of sand from 2% to 7% and of sandy clay from 7% to 12%. Larval flea infection was also obtained on turf containing dauer larvae. Nematode penetration of cocoons with invasion of prepupal and pupal fleas was apparent.

1987 Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture paper: General biocontrol of pests in agriculture

Hill N S (1987). Biological Control of Insects With Insect-Pathogenic Nematodes – A Brief Status report. Ornamentals Northwest Archives, Spring;10(3):ii-iv. Retrieved from https://agsci.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/horticulture/osu-nursery-greenhouse-and-christmas-trees/onn100302.pdf

2012 Journal of Nematology paper: A century of entomopathogenic nematode experience

Poinar G O Jr, Grewal P S (2012). History of Entomopathogenic Nematology. Journal of Nematology, Jun;44(2):153-161. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578475/


The history of entomopathogenic nematology is briefly reviewed. Topic selections include early descriptions of members of Steinernema and Heterorhabditis, how only morphology was originally used to distinguish between the species; descriptions of the symbiotic bacteria and elucidating their role in the nematode- insect complex, including antibiotic properties, phase variants, and impeding host defense responses. Other topics include early solutions regarding production, storage, field applications and the first commercial sales of entomopathogenic nematodes in North America. Later studies centered on how the nematodes locate insect hosts, their effects on non-target organisms and susceptibility of the infective juveniles to soil microbes. While the goals of early workers was to increase the efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes for pest control, the increasing use of Heterorhabditis and Photorhabdus as genetic models in molecular biology is noted.

2006 Biological Control paper: Surging scientific and commercial interest in nematodes

Georgis R, Koppenhöfer A M, Lacey L A, Bélair G, Duncan L W , Grewal P S , Samish M, Tan L, Torr P, van Tol R W H M  (2006). Successes and failures in the use of parasitic nematodes for pest control. Biological Control, 38:103-123. Retrieved from https://crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/diaprepes/bibliography/PDF/BioCont381.pdf


Advances in mass-production and formulation technology of entomopathogenic nematodes, the discovery of numerous isolates/ strains and the desirability of reducing pesticide usage have resulted in a surge of scientific and commercial interest in these nematodes. The lessons learned from earlier problems have encouraged scientists and leading commercial companies to increase their efforts toward improving cost efficiency and better product positioning in the market within the confines of product capabilities. The successes or failures of the nematodes against 24 arthropod pest species of agriculture and animals and against a major slug pest in agriculture are discussed in this review. Commercial successes are documented in markets such as citrus (Diaprepes root weevil), greenhouses and glasshouses (black vine weevil, fungus gnats, thrips, and certain borers), turf (white grubs, billbugs, and mole crickets), and mushrooms (sciarid flies). In addition, the successful commercialization of a nematode (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) against slugs in agricultural systems is presented. Despite this progress, the reality is that nematode-based products have limited market share. Limited share is attributed to higher product cost compared to standard insecticides, low efficacy under unfavorable conditions, application timing and conditions, limited data and cost benefit in IPM programs, refrigeration requirements and limited room temperature shelf life (product quality), use of suboptimum nematode species, and lack of detail application directions. One or more of these factors affected the market introduction of the nematodes despite promising field efficacy against insects such as black cutworm in turf, sugar beet weevil in sugar beet, sweet potato weevil in sweet potato, and house fly adult in animal-rearing farms. Insects such as cabbage root maggots, carrot root weevil, and Colorado potato beetle are listed on the label of certain commercial products despite low efficacy data, due to insect susceptibility, biology, and/or behavior. To make entomopathogenic nematodes more successful, realistic strategies through genetic engineering, IPM programs, and new delivery systems and/or training programs to overcome their inherent cost, formulation instability, and limited field efficacy toward certain insects are needed.

1981 Journal of Nematology paper: Great potential as pest-control agents

Gaugler R (1981). Biological Control Potential of Neoaplectanid Nematodes. Journal of Nematology, Jul;13(3):241-249. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2618097/


The neoaplectanids are among the most studied of all entomogenous nematodes. Because these nematodes kill their insect hosts, they are regarded as having excellent potential as biological control agents. While the host specificity of most entontogenous nematodes tends to limit their potential usefulness, the broad host range and high virulence of neoaplectanids make them attractive candidates for industrial development. Also, recent development of economical mass rearing procedures appears to make production on a commercial basis feasible. Infective stages may be stored for years trader various laboratory conditions. Although entomogenous nematodes, as parasites, are exempt from govermnent registration requirements, the mutualistic association of neoaplectanid nematodes with a bacterium will likely necessitate a detailed safety evaluation. Studies conducted to date indicate a lack of pathogenicity to mammals. Field trial success has been limited by the intolerance of infective stages to mffavorable environmental conditions, particularly low moisture. Applications against pests on exposed plant foliage have been especially disappointing. More encouraging anti consistent results have been obtained in more favorable environments, including soil and aquatic habitats, but the most promising treatment sites ntay be cryptic habitats where infective stages are shehered from environmental extremes. Cryptic habitats also exploit the ability of neoaplectanids to actively seek out hosts in recessed places where conventional insecticide applications are intpractical.