T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Worms (Roundworms ) Leaf Eelworm

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
(unranked): Bilateria
Phylum: Nematoda
Common name: Leaf Eelworm, Eelworm.

The tiny eelworm are about one to two millimeters long just visible against a dark background. There are thousands of eelworms (nematodes) species worldwide, a small proportion being plant parasites attacking roots, bulbs, corms, leaves, stems and buds. Plants most susceptible to leaf eelworm infections include ferns all varietiesof African violet, chrysanthemums and buddleia shrubs. Eelworm infestation becomes apparent during the late summer season and autumn.
The symptoms of feeding eelworms are discolouration or distortion of tissues which may kill affected tissues or whole plants. Discoloured angular blotches on leaves are characteristically contained within the patterns of the veins.
Leaf eelworms infestations may be confirmed by crush the leaves and put them into a glass filled with clean water. If there are any live eelworms, they will start surfacing in the container in about 30 minutes. Some eelworms might sink to the bottom of the glass. This test is not exact and is only useful in detecting developed, mature eelworms.

In most plant parasitic species through a microscope they resemble eels with blunt heads and a mouth-spear.

Top surface of an infected fern

Under surface of an infected fern leaf