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Scanning electron micrograph of a sting nematode male

Unveiling secrets of microscopic magicians: nematodes

photo of tomato plant roots shows knots and nodules caused by nematodes

Nematode damage: knotted roots and swollen roots from a tomato plant. [CREDIT: Arnie Barish]

Did you know Florida is unique? We aren’t the only ones enjoying our sand and sun. We are surrounded by worms also living the Florida life!

You may not see these worms, also known as nematodes, but might have heard them as they chew up your plant roots, especially your veggies. Okay, the part about the chewing sound is a joke. But the damage nematodes cause is no laughing matter.

These microscopic magicians excel at making your roots either disappear or contort themselves into an inescapable knot. Gardeners of all skill levels can struggle with controlling nematodes. Why? All nematodes are not the same and Florida has many kinds of them. Some can be beneficial, but those that aren’t can cause a lot of damage and be challenging to control. And different species of nematodes require different types of control methods.

So, how do you know what nematodes you have when you can’t see them? You call in the pros.

Our local community gardens received just such a visit recently, when a team of University of Florida (UF) nematologists sampled plant materials and soil from our gardens to help identify any issues there. And now we’re hosting an April 6 webinar with UF nematologists Dr. Johan Desaeger and Dr. Tina Mengyi Gu to share the results of what they found, and identify some of the nematodes that might be more common in our area. This information about our local nematodes can help us select what control methods may be more effective, saving us time, money, and a lot of frustration.

Scanning electron micrograph of a sting nematode male. [CREDIT: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS]

Scanning electron micrograph of a sting nematode male. [CREDIT: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS]

The 90-minute webinar starts at 10 a.m. with “Nematode 101” to give background and understanding about nematodes, moves into findings from the recent visit to our community gardens, discusses control methods, and then ends with brief question-and-answer session.

If you are ready to exchange some frustration for information, join us on April 6 as we unmask these microscopic magicians to reveal their tricks and give us the upper hand. This webinar is open to the public, but most relevant for local residents in Sarasota area especially those growing vegetables, Master Gardener Volunteers, and Community garden members.

Register now through Once registered through Eventbrite, the system will send you a confirmation email with the webinar link.

Additional resources about nematodes

2 Comments on “Unveiling secrets of microscopic magicians: nematodes

  1. Can anyone help me identify nematodes via picture threw single lens microscope