Wireworm

Wireworm

Who Are We?

The adult form of a wireworm is called a click beetle.  They are called click beetles because when the click beetles are on their back they  make a click when they flip over onto their legs. They have an abdomen that is flexible and they push it on the ground which allows them to catapult themselves into the air a few inches.  Many times escaping the wrath of a predator.

Biology

In the world of an insect it takes a wireworm a long time to complete his lifespan.  It can take between six and seven years just for one generation.   The pupal stage is the only short stage of a wireworms existence and it is about two weeks long.  This two weeks is lived in a cell in the ground. Wireworms  overwinter as larvae or click beetles in the soil about 9 to 24 inches beneath the soil. In the spring when the soil temperatures rise to 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit the adults come up to the surface to feed, mate and then return to the soil to lay their eggs and start the cycle over again. Adults may live for as long as 12 months. The females may re-emerge and decide to lay more eggs in another area more suitable to them.  This results in the patchy areas of destruction in fields that you see.  

Wireworms are funny creatures.  Some females like soil that is loose, light and well drained while others like soil that is low and  high in moisture and clay content. One thing that you can count on is that the larvae will move up and down in the soil profile in response to soil heat and moisture. Once the soil is over 50 degrees the larvae will be feeding in the upper 6 inches of soil.  Once the soil is over 80 degrees the larvae will move down in the soil profile until it gets cooler.  The longest part of the wireworms life is spent as a larvae eating the roots of crops.  The larvae live between two and six years long, wow!

Damage

Detection can be difficult for wire worms.   There may be reduced germination as the wireworms will eat the seeds especially corn.  They will bore a hole right through the middle of the corn and eat the germ. Wireworms also drill holes through the stalk of corn.  this will make the corn wilt and not produce ears.  Wireworms also eat the roots of seedlings and plants.  It will cause the plants to wither and die.  A heavy infestation may result in bare spots in the field.

Tubers such as potatoes may have holes drilled through them that may lead to secondary bacterial infections.

Crops Affected

The crops that are attractive to the wireworms are soybeans, corn, small grains, grasses, cabbage , root crops, potatoes, beans,sugar beets, sunflowers and vegetables.

You are more likely to have a high number of wireworms if your garden has been in sod or grassed the previous season.

Making a Solar Bait Station

Solar bait stations are used to determine the number of wireworms you have and if it is necessary to treat them before you plant.  The soil temperature needs to be at least 45 degrees.  This needs done in the early spring or late fall when it is cool. The reason the bait station will not work so well in the summer is because the wireworms will have gone down where it is cooler and moister in the earth.  They do not like warm soil or dry soil.  You need to do this when you  are planning out your garden. Think about where you are putting your root crops and your corn and small grains.  Distribute the traps randomly throughout the field that you are planting in.

Instructions  

1.    Presoak untreated corn and wheat in a 1:1 ratio. You will use 1 to 2 cups for each trap. By soaking the grain overnight it will help the germination process speed up. It will also be more attractive to the wireworms as it will be releasing more carbon dioxide than grain that is not soaked. 

2.  Dig a hole that is 4- 6 inches deep and 9 to 10 inches wide at the top.

3.  Put 1 to 2 cups of bait in the hole.

4.  Cover the bait loosely with soil and mound it up over the top so that rain will run off.  

5.  Cover the bait station with a 3 foot square piece of plastic.

6.  Dig up the bait station and surrounding area and count the little offenders.  There may be some wireworms that are lighter in color as well, don’t forget to count them as well.

7.  Calculation time! If there is one wireworm in the trap treatment is necessary. Unless you have Put 29 traps out and found zero and only 2 in all of the traps.  You need only put one trap per acre.

Biorationals   

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora – These are beneficial nematodes, and they help with a lot of other pests as well.

Garlic Extract This works as a repellant not an insecticide 

 

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