Evaluating the use of entomopathogenic nematodes for managing white grubs on school sports fields


2015 to 2016


We are carrying out a two-year field study to assess the ability to use biocontrol nematodes for managing soil-dwelling white grub on school sports fields. We are working on two separate sports fields in Geneva NY that are managed differently and occur on different soil types.


Under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act, no EPA-registered pesticides are permitted on school grounds. This leaves school grounds managers with very few options for managing pest outbreaks, and in athletic turf, increases the chance of sport injuries due to pest-induced decreases in turf quality. School turf managers are interested in using biological control options permitted by CSPFA, but the efficacy of biocontrol products under the unique soil conditions found on sports fields has not been documented thoroughly.


We are conducting a 2-year field experiment on two school soccer fields in Geneva, NY; one field constructed on a medium loam soil, that is irrigated infrequently, and one sand-based field that is regularly aerified, topdressed, and irrigated. At both fields we are creating simulated outbreaks of the annual white grub, Japanese beetle and comparing the efficacy of two different nematode species, Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. Within each field we are comparing nematode efficacy in areas of high and low foot traffic to determine if field use patterns alter the effectiveness of biocontrol nematodes


We have completed the first of 2 years for this study. Our results suggest that biocontrol nematodes may be an effective tool for controlling Japanese beetle, however, their effectiveness appears lower in soils receiving infrequent irrigation and areas receiving high foot traffic. We will continue this experiment in the upcoming field season and will be expanding our assessment to include different, more vulnerable life stages of Japanese beetle larvae.

Submitted by: 

  • Wickings, Kyle

Researchers involved: 

  • Wickings, Kyle

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York