​The objectives of the unit is to improve crop productivity, uplift societies and enhance the standard of living by establishing more effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for insects and nematode control and sustainable cultivation practices on Tropical and Subtropical Crops and vegetables.


Trials on nematodes and insects are conducted using different IPM approaches. New or different techniques when implemented will prohibit the escalation of these pests to unmanageable numbers for small-scale and commercial farmers. Research trials on basic strategies in sustainable and subsistence agricultural systems for the management of nematode and insect pests include:

  • Chemical Control

The ARC-TSC Nematology and Entomology sections offer Agrochemical trials in the field, glasshouse, micro plots, and bioassays which also include registration. Insecticides such as EXIREL® 100 SE (cyantraniliprole), DELEGATETM 250 WG (spinetoram), Hunter® 24 (chlorfenapyr) and Makhromectin (abamectin) registered for control of the same thrips species in fruit crops such as citrus (CRI, 2019), and including bio-control agent LARVANEMR containing infective juveniles Heterorhabtditis bacteriophora an entomopathogenic nematode (EPN) (Poinar & Grewal, 2012) are examples for  testing for efficacy against citrus thrips in mango orchards.

Contact: Dr Ahona Mbatyoti, Email: MbatyoitO@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7024

  • Organic Amendments

The potential value of soil amendments, particularly that of compost, mixed pit-compost, citrus fruit pit-compost, vegetable pit-compost, orange pit-compost, leaf pit-compost and shrub-pruning compost, for use especially by small-scale producers was demonstrated as a result of some amendment's potential to reduce Meloidogyne spp. densities in soil by more than 90% (up to 96% in roots and 94% in soil when compared to the untreated control). Apart from the level of reduction in Meloidogyne spp. densities, a significant increase in yield can be observed in vegetables treated with chicken, cattle manure and pit-composting. Pit-composting, especially the use of waste citrus fruits hence offers a promising nematode management alternative in reducing Meloidogyne spp. densities and enhancing plant yield.


Figure 1 A to D. The pit-compost technique used near Mbombela (South Africa) to evaluate the effect of different organic material amendments on the population densities of a mixed Meloidogyne incognita (70%) and M. javanica (30%) community with: A: 1.5 x 2 m wide and 60-cm-deep pits; some lined with plastic and the others being empty before they were filled with organic material; B: pits filled with a mixed pit-compost (1:1:1 ratio of chicken manure, fresh and decomposed stems, leaves and whole rotten fruits of citrus, avocado, guava and blackjack weed); C: pit filled with a 1:1 mixture of fresh and rotten citrus fruits ('Valencia' and navel sweet oranges) and D: trial layout showing all the pits covered with 30 cm of topsoil.

Contact: Dr Grace Tefu, Email: Grace@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7022

  • Bionematicides

Nematodes are a major pest of pineapples in South Africa and the control of it essential, therefore emphasis is placed on research on nematode control by the Hluhluwe research station in Kwazulu-Natal. The efficacy of soil conditioning with soil enhancers and bionematicides to stimulate root growth and plant resistance are evaluated against standard chemical nematode control practices.

Botanical plant extract used in traditional medicine in South Africa to control root-knot nematodes

Selected botanical non-crop plant species, vis. Cassia abbreviata, Gomphocarpus tomentosus, Lippia javanica, Maerua angolensis, Merwilla plumbea, Pappea capensis, Senegalia mellifera, Senna italica, Solanum campylacanthum, Tabernaemontana elegans, Talinum tenuissimum, Searsia lancea, Acokanthera oppositifolia, Cotyledon orbiculata, Curtisia dentata, Senna petersiana, Leonotis leonurus, Clausena anisata, Leucosidea sericea, Hippobromus pauciflorus, Clerodendrum glabrum and Lantana rugosa significantly reduced the population density of Meloidogyne incognita, Meloidogyne javanica and increase the productivity of tomato under glasshouse, microplot, field and in vitro  conditions. The active ingredient on these plant materials proved to be useful as bionematicides on tomato crop and during in-vitro bioassays guided fractionation trials. The study will contribute substantially to the knowledge base on botanical soil amendments by confirming that more plant materials might contain substances that have a significant effect on reduction of plant parasitic nematodes and increased growth and productivity of vegetables. The project has impact on formulating products to be used as soil amendments in integrated nematode control strategies (INCS) where their potential could be developed for smallholder farming communities, domestic gardeners and commercial farmers in the Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces of South Africa. This project will allow local farmers to have access to and enhance their skills development; play an important role in reducing the vulnerability of rural food-insecure households and improving livelihoods. There is a need to increase the productivity of smallholder agriculture and ensure long-term food security by intensifying production.

Contact: Dr Candy Khosa, Email: Mbokota@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7130


  • Biological Control

This method of control includes the use of Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) and Entomopathegenic fungi (EPFs) for control of insect pests. Beneficial organisms such as predatory insects and mites, pollinators, parasitoids including beneficial nematodes, provide ecosystem services to both native ecosystems and agriculture (Ali et al., 2012; Neher et al., 2017). For example, an estimated 35% of global food produced is dependent on pollinators (IPBES, 2016), while beneficial insects aid in biological control, reducing insect crop pests (Martinez et al., 2020). On the other side, beneficial nematodes are the basis of important ecosystem processes since they interact directly or indirectly with plants and provide different important ecological services in soil such as nutrient recycling, suppression of undesirable organisms, decomposition and biodegradation of harmful compounds (Neher, 2001; Ferris & Bongers, 2006).

Contact: Dr Mieke Daneel, Email: Mieke@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7023

  • Cover Crops

Fruit tree orchards, such as avocado (Persea americana) may benefit from the adoption of agroecological approaches (viz. planting cover crops), especially in simple landscapes (de Pedro et al., 2020). In South Africa (SA), the total area planted to avocado is approximately 14 700 ha; leading areas in order of dominance are Limpopo (58%), Mpumalanga (24%) and KwaZulu-Natal (14%) (SAAGA, 2021). Increasing plant diversity in orchards is expected to enhance biodiversity at the local production scale, with a likely positive impact on ecosystem services such as pest control and beneficial nematode enhancement. Since pests, predators and pollinators use plant-derived volatiles as olfactory cues, expecting a cover crop to selectively attract predators, pollinators and natural pests while repelling the damaging herbivores is challenging. Therefore, special attention is needed in selecting appropriate species that can potentially serve as insectaries supporting beneficial insects while staying neutral or repelling pests

Contact: Dr Mieke Daneel, Email: Mieke@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7023 or Dr Ahona Mbatyoti, Email: MbatyotiO@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7024


  • Root Exudates

Due to the withdrawal of several class I nematicides, chemical control has become limited and insufficient, alternative control strategies are necessary. The efficacy of tomato root exudates in enhancing egg hatching is one aspect lookek at as part of a strategy in which rootknot nematodes can be controlled.

Contact: Dr Mieke Daneel, Email: Mieke@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)13 753 7023


​The entomology and nematology section offers diagnostic/advisory services to both small-scale and commercial farmers on vegetables, tropical and subtropical crops. Such a service is also rendered in Kwazulu-Natal by the Hluhluwe research station. Since nematodes and insects occur both in the soil and roots they can seriously harm the crops. It is therefore empirical to prevent the introduction and spread of nematodes by using nematode free planting material, clearing a field from nematodes before the material is planted, reducing numbers of nematodes by encouraging the use of naturally occurring biological control agents, through an understanding of cultivation methods and appropriate use of soil amendments as well as the use of bionematicides and maintaining or enhancing the biodiversity inherent in traditional farming systems that use multiple cropping and multiple cultivars to increase the available resistance or tolerance to nematodes.

Collecting soil samples , and regularly scouting for insect pests and nematodes will help with the alleviation of diseases caused by these pests. Both palnt-parasitic and free-living nematodes are extracted from soil, roots, tubers and stems and are identified to genus level.


Extraction and identification to family level dividing between free-living and plant parasitic nematodes enumeration and recommendations.


Extraction and idenExtraction and identification to family level dividing between free-living and plant parasitic nematodes enumeration and recommendations.


Extraction and identification to family level dividing between free-living and plant parasitic nematodes enumeration and recommendations.

R147/ SAMPLER169.05


Free-living nematodes are extracted from the soil, divided into different trophic groups and identified to genus level to be used as bio-indicators of soil health. Nematodes are regarded as good indicators of soil quality, because they are widespread in agricultural soils and are characterised by diverse trophic groups within communities (Yeates et al., 1993; Ferris & Bongers, 2006). Soil quality can be monitored by determining the occurrence, abundance and diversity of non-parasitic nematodes (Bongers, 1990).



Research trials are conducted in collaboration with Southern African Development Community (SADC) and International researchers. Training of extension officials and small-scale farmers is available. Establishing demonstration trials at farms, schools and training centers as well as organizing farmer days and workshops with extension officers services are available on demand. Collaboration with the Universities by is an important aspect and are available to give experiential training to students.

Sheath nematode (Photos by Raymond Collet – North West University)​.​​​ ​ ​
 Macadamia nut borer.

 Yellow-edged stink bug.

​ ​CPfig3C.jpg
Two-spotted stink bug infected with 
Beauveria bassiana.
CPfig4.jpg Litchi moth damage to the leaves and fruit (Photos by Grace Tefu and Tertia Grove- ARC-TSC)
​​A picture of tomato root infested with
rootknot nematodes showing galls.



The horticultural industry is a fast-growing industry in Africa including southern Africa, which contributes greatly to livelihoods. Numerous insect pests have a negative impact on fruit production in southern Africa, and fruit​ flies are among the most economically-important. Fruit flies attack many important fruit crops, including citrus, mango, avocado, guava and litch​i. Females fruit flies puncture and lay eggs in fruit and vegetables, and cause fruit decay due to the feeding of the larvae. The economic impact includes yield losses, increased production costs due to control methods, and the use of insecticides which can negatively impact on the environment. Fruit flies are also a limiting factor in international trade of fresh agricultural commodities.

Project: F3 Fruit F​ly Free - Establishment and maintenance of fruit production areas free and under low prevalence of fruit fly pests in Southern Africa. The project is funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)

The project is a collaboration between different research institutions and government departments. The project is coordinated by the Agricultural Research Council (South Africa) and will run for three consecutive years. Other partners in the project are: the national Departments of Agriculture form South Africa and Mozambique, Citrus Research International (South Africa), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium). This project aims specifically at developing a framework for development, implementation and recognition of Pest Free Areas (PFAs) and Areas of Low Pest Prevalence (ALPPs) for regulated fruit fly pests in southern Africa (South Africa and Mozambique) following the directives of the relevant International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), as approved by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The target fruit fly pests in the project are: Oriental fruit fly, Mediterranean fruit fly and melon fruit fly.

Contact: Dr Tertia Grove, Email: Tertia@arc.agric.za, Tel: (0)82 450 6475

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