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CAB Review

Entomopathogenic nematodes as biocontrol agents of insect pests in orchards.


Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are increasingly being used as biological control of insect pests due to their successful biocontrol activity against various economically important insect pests. Despite the growing success of EPNs, their effective use in orchards remains rather scarce. The principal limiting factors for the practical implementation of EPNs in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes in orchards are their reduced control activity and persistence due to low-temperature regimes and desiccation, in particularly when applied against aboveground pest stages. However, recent advances in formulation technology, application strategy (with emphasis on improved persistence of the applied EPNs) and gradually acquired knowledge on optimal implementation strategies already have extended - and in the future most likely will further expand - the practical adoption of EPNs in pest management programmes in orchards. A successful implementation of EPNs in orchards requires that their usage fits into an IPM strategy. Interactions between EPNs and other biological or chemical control agents can be synergistic, additive or antagonistic, depending on the specific chemical and biological agents, as well as their rates and timing and host species. In this article, the most important aspects and features of EPN applications in orchards are reviewed.