Wireworm are soil dwelling insect larvae that damage roots of grasses and tubers of vegetables and other plants.
Identify the problem
Wireworm (click beetle larvae) attack many plants. Worst affected are lawn grasses, potatoes, wheat, maize, brassicas and root vegetables in the home garden. They are also often found in rotting wood. Damage is caused to newly planted seedlings which often wilt and die after been attacked. Holes are eaten at the base of plants, below soil level and roots chewed. Damage often allows fungal and bacterial diseases to infect the plants through the damaged tissue.
To Get Rid of Wireworm:
- Apply LawnPro Protect, LawnPro Lawnguard to affected soil at the rate of 10g per square metre and water well in.
To prevent wireworm it is recommended that damaged plants and vegetables are disposed of and crops are rotated for the following year to reduce the likelihood of future infestations. It may also be advisable to carry out a preventative treatment with LawnPro Protect or LawnPro Lawnguard prior to planting.
If the wireworm are in your potatoes or other crops you should consider the following:
- Thorough cultivation makes conditions unfavourable to the egg laying adults and exposes all stages of the pest to weather and natural enemies.
- Potatoes make great wireworm traps. Cut a potato in half and run a stick through the middle. Bury the spud about one inch deep so that the stick stands vertically as a handle. Pull the traps out after a day or two and discard wireworms.
- Drench with Kiwicare Organic Insect Control is also recommended, but should only be used as a last resort.
- Tip: If possible, wait until the soil has warmed before planting potatoes or other tubers. Wireworm prefer cool soils and dig deeper into the ground when temperatures rise.
Did You Know
- The adult wireworms, click beetles, are small brown or black beetles, rather elongate in shape and somewhat flattened. They have a habit of springing into the air if disturbed, and if they fall on their backs, by a sudden flexing of the body they produce a clicking sound.
- The larvae (wireworms) are elongate cylindrical or flattened with three pairs of small legs close to the head end. The body is pale brown in colour, shiny and tough. They reach a length of 15-30mm dependent on species. They are often found with their head end buried in damaged root tissue. Eggs are laid in the soil, usually in pasture. The young wireworms spend at least a year in the soil before they mature ready to pupate.
- The scientific name of the pasture wireworm (click beetle) is - Conoderus exsul
Wireworm prevention in vegetable plots:
- Click beetle larvae prefer cool soils and dig deeper into the ground when temperatures rise. Hold off planting tubers and corms until soil warms up.
- Keep soil bare until you are ready to plant.
- Regular crop rotation will help keep populations down.