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  • Author or Editor: Leellen F. Solter x
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Erick X. Caamano, Raymond A. Cloyd, Leellen F. Solter and Declan J. Fallon

The quality of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) is critical to their success as biological control agents, but it is difficult to evaluate quality because standard procedures are not available. Generally, the quality of biological control agents is determined by field performance because end users may have minimal knowledge pertaining to the condition of biological control agents before application. This study assessed the variability in quality of commercially available EPN products. The authors evaluated preapplication survival of five EPN formulations, Steinernema feltiae (NemaShield, Nemasys, Gnat Not, Horticultural Scanmask), and Heterorhabditis indica (GrubStake-Hi), based on eight shipments/samples of each EPN product received during a 5-month period (July to November). The estimated total number of EPN delivered per shipment (i.e., sample) was compared with the expected quantity listed on the label, and percent live EPN was determined for each shipment. One-half of the shipments of Gnat Not (four of eight) contained 40% to 70% of the number of EPN expected based on the label (25 million). The remaining shipments contained consistently higher numbers, with 99% of the expected quantity of EPN received. Entomopathogenic nematode mean percent survival was highest for Nemasys (98%) and lowest for Horticultural Scanmask (56%). The overall mean percent survival for Gnat Not and GrubStake-Hi, both from the same supplier, was more than 85%. Survival of EPN in the NemaShield product was as low as 50%, but was typically between 65% and 75%. NemaShield and Nemasys were the only two EPN products that provided return policy information if the product was damaged in any way. It is important for distributors and suppliers to ensure that EPN products are in quality condition before shipping to avoid performance failures and loss of customers. In addition, end users need to evaluate shipments upon receipt to determine the viability of EPN products.