Tiny clear worms in the soil. Gardeners of all experience levels will not hesitate to tell you that fewer things are more frustrating than garden pests.
Tiny, clear worms in soil are a surefire sign that you’ve got a pest infestation on your hands and may leave you in a panic regarding how to rid yourself of them.
Not only do garden pests tend to look, well, gross, but they can wreak havoc on your plants and soil.
However, it’s important to remember that most pests belong on the earth, and you may find that while some will ruin your garden, others are there to help.
It’s all about distinguishing one from the other.
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Tiny Clear Worms in Soil
If you’ve noticed clear worms in your garden, they are nematodes. Some are parasitic, while others are free-living, eating the bacteria (and insects) that might otherwise destroy your garden. Understanding how to identify the tiny transparent worms in your garden soil is the key to knowing how you handle them.
To know what you’re dealing with, you’ve got to distinguish which type of nematode you’ve got in your garden.
First, let’s break down the types of Nematodes and how you can determine which ones are present among your plants.
Nematodes can be identified by taking a closer look. They’re so tiny. You’ll want to take a much closer look!
If the worms you see in your garden are tiny and completely colorless, you’ve likely got nematodes.
Most nematodes require a microscope to become visible to the human eye, so you might want to bust out that magnifying glass to get a better glimpse.
Again, to avoid misidentification, consider they are entirely colorless, not white. It’s easy to mistake nematodes for caterpillars.
The only way to verify which type of nematodes you’ve got in your garden is to ask for professional help regarding identification.
Your local plant nursery can assist you in properly identifying these helpful nematodes.
Instead of attacking plants, some nematodes go after insects. These Nematodes can be allies, as they debilitate and kill their hosts, often garden-ruining insects.
These insect-parasitic nematodes can be purchased both online and through garden-specific catalogs. You can safely let them go among your landscaping, garden included, when they arrive.
These nematodes are not a threat to your plants or the domestic and wild animals that frequent your garden.
Instead, they’ll help to control the number of caterpillars, rootworms, weevils, and soil grubs that can show up and kill your plants.
Feeding on fungi and bacteria, free-living nematodes are beneficial members of the microorganisms that populate your garden.
These little guys are great for controlling both plant diseases and pests, making the natural nutrients in the soil more available to your plants and encouraging growth.
In short, free-living nematodes are a good thing. Having them around will cause your garden to flourish. If you find your plants and flowers thriving, nematodes may be the cause!
Plant-parasitic nematodes are the kind you don’t want hanging around. Plant-parasitic nematodes depend on plants to continue their life cycle, destroying the plant.
The most common type of garden nematode is the root-knot nematode, which is responsible for ruining the roots of vegetables and perennials. These nematodes will cause stunted growth or, worse, the death of the plant.
You can identify plants infected with plant-parasitic nematodes by the look of the plant. If your garden becomes yellow and wilted, you’ll want to pull them up, looking for lumpy nodules around the root system that houses the nematodes.
Controlling the Damage
Plant-parasitic nematodes in your garden can cause extensive damage. The best way to eradicate them is to pull up the infected plants by the root to stop the nematodes from spreading.
You also might want to think about solarizing your soil and leaving it unplanted for the year. This method will kill most of the nematodes and starve those that survive.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if the nematodes are good or bad?
If you’ve got beneficial nematodes, your garden will thrive. On the other hand, plant-parasitic nematodes will kill, wilt, or stunt the growth of your plants.
Can I kill nematodes without pulling up my garden?
Possibly, it depends on how severe the infestation is. Talk to your local gardening professional so you go about it correctly, using the correct chemicals to get the job done.
Who can I call to determine the type of nematode I have?
Start at your local gardening center. They will tell you what kind of nematode you have and whether they’re beneficial. Often, you’ll contact pest control, and they’ll determine what you’ve got going on under the soil.
Identifying Your Soil Worms
If you’ve found that you’ve got worms in your soil, try not to panic. If nothing’s wrong with your garden, these nematodes are likely beneficial.
However, if this is not the case, there are ways to keep your garden alive and thriving. You may have to relocate it!
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.