Beneficial nematodes are microscopic predators that destroy the larvae of many common garden pests. But there are also nematode species that feed on the roots of plants and foliage. Root-knot nematodes are one type of root-feeding nematode that can infest tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beans and other crops. Infected plants become stunted and yellow; during hot, dry weather they may wilt. Plants will die if severely infected.
To check for root-knot nematode, uproot a few plants and look for small, round galls on the roots. Infected taproots, such as carrots, may develop many small side roots. Since nematodes are almost impossible to see with the naked eye, an accurate diagnosis of nematode damage may require assistance from a professional. Nematodes can be accidentally introduced to a garden via infected soil, water, tools or plants. They are a more severe problem in warm climates than they are in colder regions.
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