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cactus cyst eelworm

Cactodera cacti
This information is part of a full datasheet available in the Crop Protection Compendium (CPC). Find out more information on how to access the CPC.
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.


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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

show all species affected
Epiphyllum ackermannii
Erysimum allionii
Opuntia microdasys (angel's wings)
Opuntia stricta (erect prickly pear)
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)
Schlumbergera truncata (christmas cactus)

List of symptoms / signs

Roots - cysts on root surface
Roots - proliferation roots in ball


The roots branch and more rootlets than normal are produced (Narbaev, 1973). Necrosis found at feeding sites may spread and contribute to secondary root-rotting (Shmal'ko, 1959), allowing saprozoic nematodes and pathogenic fungi and bacteria into the plant tissues. Observations on the top growth of the infected plants range from no adverse effects (Southey, 1957) to reddish-brown top growth, wilting and a reduction in flower production (Langdon and Esser, 1969; O'Bannon and Esser, 1970). Hosts which appear to be very susceptible, such as Zygocactus truncatus [Schlumbergera truncata] (Stelter and Kühn, 1973) and Cereus baumanni (Narbaev, 1973), may die after several years of heavy infestation by C. cacti.

Prevention and control

Most infested plants can be individually freed from nematodes either by taking stem cuttings and potting them into new, uninfested soil, or cutting off the old root system and repotting into clean soil. When large numbers of potted plants require treatment, a hot water method can be used effectively. This involves immersing the pot or root-ball in ten times its own volume of water heated to 43-45°C for thirty minutes (Stelter and Kühn, 1973). Effective control, even complete eradication, has been claimed when using organophosphate nematicides as drenches. Applications at 300, 600 or 1000 ppm all gave effective control (Narbaev, 1973; O'Bannon and Esser, 1970).

Biological Control

This has not been studied. However, it has been recorded that spores of Pasteuria penetrans attach themselves to the cuticle of the J2 with great affinity in pot experiments and in vitro (Winkelheide and Sturhan, 1996).


C. cacti is not significantly important as regards economic loss. Plant quarantine regulations do not apply as C. cacti is not on the EPPO Quarantine List. If cysts are found they can be eradicated (see section on control).

In Mexico, several states produce cacti for food, in the form of fruit and calodens. C. cacti can reduce the profitability of these plants (Baldwin and Mundo-Ocampo, 1991).