Nematodes in Turf

en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲


Nematodes are microscopic, worm-like organisms that feed on the roots of all plants, including turfgrasses. They are usually grouped with turfgrass diseases because of their microscopic size and because their symptoms often resemble those caused by fungal diseases. Nematode feeding causes a variety of symptoms on turfgrass roots, including stunting, clubbing, lack of branching, dieback, and rot. The above-ground symptoms of nematode feeding are slow growth, thinning of the turf, poor response to adequate fertilization and irrigation, rapid wilting during dry weather, and weed invasion. These symptoms typically appear in irregular patterns across the turf stand, not in circular patches or other distinct patterns. By the time the above-ground symptoms of nematode injury appear, significant damage to the root system has already occurred. A preliminary diagnosis can be made by comparing the root system in core samples from healthy and affected areas. For a definitive diagnosis, submit a soil sample for analysis of nematode populations, since nutritional or other cultural problems may cause similar symptoms. There are about 12 nematode species that are known to damage turfgrasses in North Carolina. Some species are more damaging than others, so each species has a unique threshold, or number of nematodes per volume of soil at which control practices are needed.

Cultural Control

Make sure that the problem is due to nematode injury by taking a representative soil sample from the affected area and submitting it to a laboratory for analysis. North Carolina residents can submit samples to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services for analysis of nematode populations. Samples, consisting of 12 to 15 soil cores approximately 6 inches deep, should be taken from the edge of the affected area. The sample must not be allowed to dry or be exposed to extreme heat, otherwise nematodes will be killed and an accurate count cannot be obtained. A separate set of soil samples should also be submitted for chemical analysis to determine if any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances exist.

Selection of a well-adapted turfgrass species is an important first step in nematode management. For example, centipedegrass is more susceptible to the sting nematode than bermudagrass or bahiagrass. Therefore, bermudagrass would be the best choice for use in residential lawns where high quality turf is desired if irrigation is available. Zoysiagrass has been observed to be very sensitive to damage from sting nematodes and would not be a good replacement for centipedegrass in sting nematode infested soil. Bahiagrass may be the best choice for low maintenance lawns and in large commercial landscapes in eastern North Carolina. Very little damage from nematodes has been observed on this turfgrass species.

Proper turfgrass management practices will help to overcome a certain amount of nematode injury. When symptoms from nematode injury appear, apply low rates of fertilizer and irrigation on a frequent basis to compensate for the shallow root system, but do not increase the total amount of fertilizer or water applied to the turf. Incorporation of organic matter, such as peat or compost, into the soil may help to reduce nematode populations and increase the turf’s tolerance to nematode feeding. In landscape and utility turf situations, these are the only practical means of nematode management, as nematicides are not registered for use in these areas.

Chemical Control

Nematicides may be used on golf courses and sod farms when nematode populations exceed threshold values. Nematicides are very toxic to humans and the environment, so label directions should be followed closely if and when they are used.


For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center