Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that live in soil, oceans, and lakes. Scientists estimate that there could be a million species of nematodes and that many of them are parasites. Sometimes farmers use parasitic nematodes as a natural enemy to kill some pests. This is one type of biological pest control.

We studied a particular parasitic nematode called Steinernema scapterisci. It infects insects and has been used as biological pest control in the United States.

Some parasites are generalists and can infect a wide variety of hosts while others are specialists and only infect certain hosts. We wanted to determine if S. scapterisci really is a specialist parasite and why it is a picky eater (showing a preference for one insect over another). To do this we studied how these nematodes behave when given different insects as food.

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About this article

Summary of research
Scientists studied the parasites of common garden pests to find out if they are specialists or generalists.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
NGSS standards
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Scientific methods
Type of figure
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
March 2017

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