- The larva of a nematode will go through four stages, or instars, of development. The first will occur inside the egg. Environmental conditions, such as temperature and moisture, will determine when the egg hatches. Hatching will not take place until the outside conditions are favorable for survival. When it is time to hatch, the larva will secrete enzymes that digest the surrounding egg membrane, and the egg will rupture and allow the first-stage larva to escape.
- The first stage larva will feed on bacteria and grow until it molts into a larger skin. Molting will occur two additional times before the larva reaches the adult stage of development. There will be a rapid growth stage between the first and second larval molt.
- Following the fourth molt, the nematode enters into the immature adult stage. At the adult stage, the nematode will be a non-segmented worm about 1/20 of an inch in length and even smaller in diameter.
- Following a final growth phase, the immature adult nematode becomes sexually mature and male and female genders are established.
- Once nematodes reach sexual maturity, the males and females will mate. Following mating, the female will deposit eggs into the soil where they will hatch within a few hours or days, depending upon environmental conditions.