Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Belonolaimus longicaudatus
(sting nematode)



Belonolaimus longicaudatus (sting nematode)


  • Last modified
  • 11 October 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Belonolaimus longicaudatus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sting nematode
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Nematoda
  •       Family: Belonolaimidae
  •         Genus: Belonolaimus
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau, 1958

Preferred Common Name

  • sting nematode

EPPO code

  • BELOLO (Belonolaimus longicaudatus)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Nematoda
  •             Family: Belonolaimidae
  •                 Genus: Belonolaimus
  •                     Species: Belonolaimus longicaudatus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page B. longicaudatus was first described by Rau (1958). Before Rau's paper the predominant sting nematode in the USA was considered to be B. gracilis. This is now thought unlikely because most records prior to 1958 probably referred to B. longicaudatus (Thorne, 1961; Smart and Nguyen, 1991); B. gracilis is a relatively uncommon species in southern USA.


Top of page Measurements (after Rau, 1958, 1961)

Female (n=53): L=2.0-3.0 mm; a=55-75; b=7.2-12.6; c=13-21; c'=3.5-6.0; V=46-54; spear=100-140 µm; tail length=115-183 µm; phasmid to terminus=79-129 µm; spear length divided by tail length=0.67-1.14.

Male (n=50): L=2.0-3.0 mm; a=54-76; b=6.3-8.1; c=13-17; spear=107-132 µm; tail length=100-157 µm; phasmid to terminus=74-129 µm; spear length divided by tail length=0.76-1.19; spicule length along chord=38-49 µm; gubernaculum=15-18 µm.

Female (n=136) (after Rau, 1963): L=2.509 (1.986-3.012) mm; V=49 (46-54); spear=127 (115-140) µm; conus=93 (84-102) µm; shaft=34 (28-39) µm; tail length=154 (115-189) µm.

Description (after Orton Williams, 1974)


Lip region hemispherical, divided by lateral, dorsal and ventral grooves into four main lobes, each bearing six or more horizontal striations. Lip region generally set off from body by a deep constriction, although this may be less well marked in some populations. Lateral fields marked by a single incisure extending from the base of the lip region to near the tail terminus. Spear 110-140 µm long, thin, flexible with rounded knobs. When retracted the anterior oesophagus is convoluted. Median bulb well developed with prominent valve plates. Excretory pore posterior to median bulb with hemizonid just anterior to it. Oesophageal glands lobe-like and extending over anterior portion of intestine. Vulva a transverse slit, lips not protruding and located in the mid-region of the body. Vagina with opposing pairs of cuticularized pieces in lateral view. Genital tract amphididelphic, outstretched. Spermathecae present. Tail 115-189 µm long, about five times anal body width long and subcylindroid with a rounded terminus. Hyaline portion 5.9 (4.2-7.8) µm long. Phasmids inconspicuous. Intestine extending almost to tail terminus. Serpentine canals present.


Lip region more flattened at the sides than in the female. Spicules arcuate with ventral flanges; distal ends pointed with small apical notches. Gubernaculum well developed. Bursa enveloping tail.


Top of page B. longicaudatus is a major pest in southeastern USA and is widespread throughout the Atlantic coastal plain from Virginia to Florida. Outlier populations have been reported from Mexico and Central America. Reports from Bermuda, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico apparently refer to golf courses where infected turf was imported from the USA (Perry and Rhoades, 1982). Early reports of B. gracilis from southern USA almost certainly refer to B. longicaudatus.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


PakistanPresentPathan et al., 2004; Pathan et al., 2004
PakistanPresentPathan et al., 2004; Pathan et al., 2004
Saudi ArabiaPresentAbu-Gharbieh and Al-Azzeh, 2004
TurkeyPresentKepenekci, 2001

North America

BermudaPresentPerry and Rhoades, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003
MexicoPresentSmart and Nguyen, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2003
USAPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003
-AlabamaPresentChristie, 1959; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-ArkansasPresentRiggs, 1961; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-CaliforniaPresentMundo-Ocampo et al., 1994; Cherry et al., 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-ConnecticutRestricted distributionHoldeman, 1955; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-DelawarePresentHandoo et al., 2010
-FloridaPresentSteiner, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-GeorgiaPresentHoldeman, 1955; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-KansasPresentDickerson et al., 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-LouisianaRestricted distributionHoldeman, 1955; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-MississippiPresentSmart and Nguyen, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-MissouriPresentPerry and Rhoades, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-NebraskaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2003
-New JerseyPresentHutchinson and Reed, 1956; Myers, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-North CarolinaPresentHoldeman, 1955; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-OklahomaRestricted distributionRussell and Sturgeon, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-South CarolinaPresentGraham, 1952; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-TexasPresentChristie, 1959; CABI/EPPO, 2003
-VirginiaPresentOwens, 1950; Owens, 1951; CABI/EPPO, 2003

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentPerry and Rhoades, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003
Costa RicaPresentLopez, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 2003
Puerto RicoPresentPerry and Rhoades, 1982; CABI/EPPO, 2003

Risk of Introduction

Top of page The main phytosanitary risk is probably via infected sods of turf exported for golf course establishment.


Top of page B. longicaudatus is found in deep sandy soils where it is an ectoparasite of plant roots. In Virginia, USA, the sand content of infested soils ranged from 84 to 94% (Miller, 1972). The nematode is mainly confined to the top 30 cm of soil but may migrate vertically in response to temperature.

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page B. longicaudatus has a wide host range including many grasses, crops and woody hosts. Differences in host range are reported between populations from various states in the USA (Smart and Nguyen, 1991).

Growth Stages

Top of page Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page B. longicaudatus feeds ectoparasitically near the root tip and along the root resulting in a reduced root system with stubby side branches and terminal galling. Dark lesions may appear on the outer root surface at the point of penetration. Above-ground symptoms include severe stunting, wilting in dry conditions, leaf chlorosis and, in severe cases, death of the plant.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Roots / galls at tip
Roots / reduced root system
Roots / stubby roots
Whole plant / dwarfing

Biology and Ecology

Top of page B. longicaudatus is a migratory ectoparasite of plant roots. There are three juvenile stages in the soil; the first moult occurs within the egg. The life cycle takes about 28 days and the species is amphimictic. Although an ectoparasite, the exceptionally long spear allows the nematode to feed deep within the root tissue, causing severe damage to the host. The optimum temperature for reproduction is around 30ºC, but the nematode remains active and feeds at up to 39ºC. Light sandy soils are favoured and the nematode is absent in muck or marl soils.

The existence of physiological races has been demonstrated and these have differing host ranges (Smart and Nguyen, 1991). The presence of the nematode may overcome resistance to Fusarium wilt [Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum] in cotton leading to high crop losses in the field.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Arthrobotrys amerospora Predator
Myrothecium verrucaria Pathogen
Pasteuria penetrans Pathogen

Seedborne Aspects

Top of page B. longicaudatus is not seedborne.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Growing medium accompanying plants adults; eggs; juveniles Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Roots adults; eggs; juveniles Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants adults; eggs; juveniles Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)


Top of page B. longicaudatus can cause devastating losses to cotton, particularly when it occurs in association with Fusarium wilt [Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum]. It also causes severe losses to other crops including groundnut, soyabean, Phaseolus vulgaris, beet, crucifers, celery, okra, onion, pea, pepper, potato and maize and to forage and turf grasses, the latter being economically important in amenity grassland such as golf courses.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page B. longicaudatus may be extracted from soil and turf using standard techniques. Because it is a relatively long nematode, centrifugation or immersion sieving methods should enhance recovery rates.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page B. longicaudatus is superficially similar to other species of the genus and also to members of the genus Dolichodorus. It can be best distinguished from the other species of Belonolaimus by having only one incisure in the lateral field and by the length of the spear (>100 µm long). A key to species is provided by Smart and Nguyen (1991).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Chemical treatment of soil using liquid or granular nematicides is usually highly effective due to the porous nature of the sandy soils that the nematode favours.

Various non-hosts have been used as cover crops or in rotation to reduce populations of the nematode (Smart and Nguyen, 1991) and organic soil amendments may also have a beneficial effect. Soil solarization has also been tested in strawberry fields (Overman et al., 1987).

Biological control has been attempted: Pasteuria penetrans suppressed B. longicaudatus populations after 1 year (Giblin-Davis, 1990).


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Abu-Gharbieh W; Al-Azzeh T, 2004. A checklist on nematode-plant associations in the Arab countries. Arab Journal of Plant Protection, 22(1):1-22.

CABI/EPPO, 2003. Belonolaimus longicaudatus. Distribution Maps of Plant Diseases, No. 879. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Cherry T; Szalanski AL; Todd TC; Powers TO, 1997. The internal transcribed spacer region of Belonolaimus (Nemata: Belonolaimidae). Journal of Nematology, 29(1):23-29; 27 ref.

Christie JR, 1959. Plant Nematodes. Their Bionomics and Control. Gainesville, Florida: Agricultural Experimental Station, University of Florida.

Dickerson OJ; Willis WG; Dainello FJ; Pair JC, 1972. The sting nematode, Belonolaimus longicaudatus, in Kansas. Plant Disease Reporter, 56(11):957

Giblin-Davis RM, 1990. Potential for biological control of phytoparasitic nematodes in Bermudagrass turf with isolates of the Pasteuria penetrans group. Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, 103:349-351

Graham TW, 1952. Nematodes as ectoparasites on tobacco, cotton and other plants. Phytopathology, 42:9.

Handoo ZA; Skantar AM; Mulrooney RP, 2010. First report of the sting nematode Belonolaimus longicaudatus on soybean in Delaware. Plant Disease, 94(1):133.

Holdeman QL, 1955. The present known distribution of the sting nematode, Belonolaimus gracilis, in the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. Plant Disease Reporter, 39:5-8.

Hutchinson MT; Reed JB, 1956. The sting nematode, Belonolaimus gracilis, found in New Jersey. Plant Disease Reporter, 40:1049.

Kepenekci I, 2001. Taxonomic investigations on the species of Tylenchida (Nematoda) in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) fields in Marmara Region. (Marmara Bölgesi'nde ayçiçegi (Helianthus annuus L.) ekilis alanlarInda saptanan Tylenchida (Nematoda) türleri üzerinde taksonomik arastIrmalar.) Bitki Koruma Bülteni, 41(3/4):101-134.

Lopez R, 1979. Belonolaimus longicaudatus on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Agronomia Costarricense, 3(1):61

Miller LI, 1972. The influence of soil texture on the survival of Belonolaimus longicaudatus. Phytopathology, 62:670-671.

Mundo-Ocampo M; Becker JO; Baldwin JG, 1994. Occurrence of Belonolaimus longicaudatus on Bermudagrass in the Coachella Valley. Plant Disease, 78(5):529.

Myers RF, 1979. The sting nematode, Belonolaimus longicaudatus, from New Jersey. Plant Disease Reporter, 63(9):756-757

Orton Williams KJ, 1974. Belonolaimus longicaudatus. CIH Descriptions of Plant-parasitic Nematodes, Set 3, No. 40. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Overman AJ; Howard CM; Albregts EE, 1987. Soil solarization for strawberries. Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, 100:236-239; 8 ref.

Owens JV, 1950. Sting nematode found hostile toward Virginia peanuts. Peanut J. Nut World, 30:31.

Owens JV, 1951. The pathological effects of Belonolaimus gracilis on peanuts in Virginia. Phytopathology, 41:29.

Pathan MA; Talpur MA; Jiskani MM; Wagan KH, 2004. Studies on plant parasitic nematodes associated with banana in Sindh, Pakistan. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 7(2):249-252.

Perry VG; Rhoades HL, 1982. The genus Belonolaimus. In: Riggs RD, ed. Nematology in the Southern Region of the United States. Southern Cooperative Series Bulletin 276. Fayetville, USA: Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Arkansas, 144-149.

Rau GJ, 1958. A new species of sting nematode. Proceedings of the Helminthological Society of Washington, 25:95-98.

Rau GJ, 1961. Amended description of Belonolaimus gracilis Steiner, 1949 and B. longicaudatus Rau, 1958 (Nematoda: Tylenchida). Proceedings of the Helminthological Society of Washington, 28:198-200.

Rau GJ, 1963. Three new species of Belonolaimus (Nematoda: Tylenchida) with additional data on B. longicaudatus and B. gracilis. Proceedings of the Helminthological Society of Washington, 30:119-128.

Riggs RD, 1961. Sting nematodes in Arkansas. Plant Disease Reporter, 45:392.

Russell CC; Sturgeon RV, 1969. Occurrence of Belonolaimus longicaudatus and Ditylenchus dipsaci in Oklahoma. Phytopathology, 59:118.

Smart GC; Nguyen KB, 1991. Sting and awl nematodes: Belonolaimus spp. and Dolichodorus spp. Manual of Agricultural Nematology., 627-667; 6 pp. of ref.

Steiner G, 1949. Plant nematodes the grower should know. Proceedings of the Soil Science Society of Florida 1942, 4-B:72-117.

Thorne G, 1961. Principles of Nematology. London, UK: McGraw Hill.

Distribution Maps

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