Will Neem Oil Kill Beneficial Nematodes?

Plant owners look for alternative ways to treat their plants in the healthiest way possible. Therefore, neem oil uses for plants as a pesticide have been acknowledged over the past few years. However, this usage raises several concerns, mainly: will neem oil kill beneficial nematodes?

This article will discuss why certain nematodes are essential for your garden and how neem oil affects these species.

What Are Nematodes?

Here’s a quick introduction if you need to learn what nematodes are.

Nematodes are one of the animal species living in your garden that look like tiny roundworms. However, they aren’t quite visible to the naked eye due to their size. Researchers have found over 30,000 nematode species.

Out of these 30,000 species, a couple of them can be found in gardens. While a few species harm the plants differently, some benefit the garden.

Can neem oil kill nematodes? It indeed can, as many nematode species are dangerous for plants.

Why Are Nematodes Beneficial or Harmful for Your Garden?

Parasitic nematodes mainly target a particular part of the plant and harm them differently. Not every damage caused by nematodes is life-threatening for the plants, though some can cause serious infections and damage.

Root knots, root lesions, pinewood, citrus, etc., are some of the nematodes that can harm plants. However, the damage caused by a few species can be lethal for plants.

Root-knot nematodes, for instance, feed off the roots of numerous plants, including cucumber, cabbage, melon etc. The roots develop galls (swollen structures) after the root knot’s attack, which hinders the plant’s ability to soak water and other vital nutrients from the soil effectively. Consequently, the plant either stops growing or wilts and dies.

Beneficial nematodes, on the other hand, have significant uses around the garden. These nematodes mainly feed on other parasitic creatures found in your garden, especially larvae, to wipe out the population of pests. Hence, your plants remain healthy and unharmed, and any infestation you might also have gradually halted.

For instance, Steinernema carpocapsae, a commonly found beneficial nematode, feeds on caterpillars, cockroaches, cucumber beetles, etc. You can spray beneficial nematodes onto the soil where it seems dangerous garden pests and feeds on premature bugs. Consequently, the parasitic creatures don’t survive even to their maturation to hurt your plants.

Will Neem Oil Kill Beneficial Nematodes?

The one serious concern here is the use of neem oil and its effects on the beneficial nematode species discussed above. Will neem oil kill beneficial nematodes?

A major reason for this concern is that neem oil is one of the most popular and effective organic pesticides. This plant-based chemical has a compound, azadirachtin, which disrupts the hormonal systems of many garden pests, including aphids, spider mites, gnats, etc. Hence, the reproduction and growth of these harmful species are influenced, which eliminates the infestation gradually.

Can neem oil kill nematodes? It certainly can, especially the dangerous ones. However, there’s nothing to be worried about when it comes to beneficial nematodes.

A study on beneficial nematodes suggests that emulsifying agents such as liquid dishwashing soaps with neem oil may threaten them. Therefore, taking care of the quality and quantity of your liquid soap can significantly reduce the chances of neem oil harming beneficial nematodes.

A different study showed how neem oil didn’t kill or even hinder the function of beneficial nematodes while successfully reducing the pest population. Hence, treating your plants with neem oil while using beneficial nematodes for your soil works out perfectly well. You can also use the two separately.

Final Thoughts

Neem oil uses for plants as an organic pesticide are now widely acknowledged by plant owners. Its treatment of plants is highly effective in eliminating numerous garden pests. However, will neem oil kill beneficial nematodes? The answer is no.

Neem oil works well with beneficial nematodes and doesn’t harm other beneficial pollinators. Hence, you can use neem oil and beneficial nematodes together for your plant’s protection and health.