Taking the sting out

If sting nematodes (Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau) are a problem in your turf, you may already have relief on site. Researchers at Auburn University noticed that spotted spurge plants growing in the midst of sting-nematode-infested plants were unaffected. Spurge is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, as is poinsettia, and produces a milky sap from broken leaves and stems. This sap is toxic to livestock and may provide resistance to attack by pests.

Researchers chose spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata L. Small), poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherima Willd.), lantana (Lantana camara var. hybrida), lettuce (Lactuca canadensis L.) and goldenrod (Solidago altissima var. scabra L.), which all produce a milky-type sap, to experiment with. Using either extracts of the shoots or roots of each plus a seed meal extract of Brassica juncea ‘Pacific Gold,’ they treated nematodes growing in test tubes, as well as nematodes growing in soil in the greenhouse. While results varied depending upon whether root or shoot extracts were used, the most promising results were obtained from spotted spurge and poinsettia shoot extracts and Brassica seed meal. These provided over 90 percent control of sting nematodes. Lantana, lettuce and goldenrod did not provide sufficient results. Further tests are needed in the field to determine if the extracts and seed meal control hold up under field conditions. Until such time, try controlling sting nematodes with homemade spurge soup.

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