Sugarbeet wireworm (Limonius californicus) – a big pest in some fields

Continuing our series on Prairie wireworms, this week we highlight the sugarbeet wireworm, Limonius californicus.

This species is less abundant than Hypnoidus bicolor or the Prairie grain wireworm (Selatosomus aeripennis destructor), but some fields have a major problem with this species. Limonius californicus wireworms are 17-22 mm long at maturity and can be aggressive feeders. The literature reports it is more likely to be found in irrigated fields.

The life cycle of L. californicus on the Prairies is not well known. Our current information is based on lab studies in California in the 1940s, where larvae lived for 2-5 years before undergoing metamorphosis into adult click beetles.

Wireworm size varies within a species
depending on age. Photo: W. van Herk, AAFC-Agassiz

AAFC has recently released a new field guide on Prairie pest wireworms. It has information on biology, monitoring and management, and research on wireworms on the Prairies. Preview pages extracted from the guide highlighting Limonius californicus by clicking here.

Free digital copies in both official languages can be downloaded at these links:

Download English guide 

Download French guide HERE

Free hard copies are also available while supplies last. Email Haley Catton at to request your copy.

 Did you know?

– A new pheromone has recently been discovered by researchers at Simon Fraser University AAFC that attracts male beetles. This pheromone will help monitoring efforts.


Gries R, Alamsetti SK, van Herk WG, Catton HA, Meers S, Lemke E, Gries G (2021) Limoniic acid – major sex pheromone component of the click beetles Limonius canus and L. californicus. Journal of Chemical Ecology 41:123-133.

Van Herk, W. G., Labun, T. J., & Vernon, R. S. (2019). Efficacy of diamide, neonicotinoid, pyrethroid, and phenyl pyrazole insecticide seed treatments for controlling the sugar beet wireworm, Limonius californicus (Coleoptera: Elateridae), in spring wheat. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia, 115, 86-100.