Plantain is one of the most commercially cultivated fruit crops in Kerala. The major threat faced by plantain farmers is the attack of worm pests. These worms can be controlled by Entomopathogenic nematode (EPN) or roundworms. Nematode worms belong to Steinernema and Heterorhabditis types.
Embalmed worms inserted with nematodes are provided to the farmers for pest control. These dead worms are called cadavers. One cadaver contains up to 1.5 – 2.5 lakh nematodes.
Nematodes comes out of the cadaver and hunt the worm pests in the presence of moisture in soil. They will function only if proper amount of moisture is available.
The cadaver can be directly put into the soil or plant. Also the nematodes coming out of the cadaver can be mixed in water and sprinkled.
Nematodes do not kill the pests directly but it is the bacteriae coexisting inside their body. Xenorhabdus bacteria in Steinernema and photorhabdus bacteria in Heterorhabditis nematodes are controlling the pests.
Once the nematodes enter the body of the worm pest, the bacteriae come out and multiply until the inside of the worm’s body is liquified. Thus the worm is killed within 24 – 48 hours.
To prevent cutworms, put 4 cadavers in the flowerbed while planting the sapling and in the second and fifth months after planting. The soil should have sufficient moisture.
To fight armyworms, put one cadaver in the leaf stalks in 5th, 6th, and 7th months each. If the worm has already attacked the plantain, break a cadaver and mix it in water and inject the liquid through the hole made by the worm.