This week’s instalment is a sneak peak at the soon-to-be published manual “Field Guide of Pest Wireworms in Canadian Prairie Crop Production,” written by Haley Catton, Wim van Herk, Julien Saguez, and Erl Svendsen! (stay tuned to this channel)
Wireworms are soil-dwelling insects that have challenged crop production on the Canadian Prairies since farming began in this region. They damage crops by feeding on seeds, roots or lower stems of almost all field crops, and are especially damaging to cereals. Since wireworms are often the only reason growers use insecticide-treated seed in cereals on the Prairies, understanding more about these pests can save costs and reduce unnecessary pesticide use.
Despite their common name and worm-like appearance, wireworms are not actually “worms.” Rather, they are the larval stage of a group of beetles called click beetles (Elateridae family). Their “clicking” is a defensive behaviour that when placed on their backs, projects them up to 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more into the air to escape danger and literally get them back on their legs
Selatosomus aeripennis destructor, or the Prairie grain wireworm, is the largest of Prairie pest wireworms, reaching up to 23 millimetres (1 inch). It is hard-bodied, segmented and yellowish in colour, with three pairs of legs. Adults are 8-13 mm long, black, hairless and have distinct hind angles.
More information about these pests (lifecycle, damage, control options, etc.) and others is available in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management field guide. (en français : Guide d’identification des ravageurs des grandes cultures et des cultures fourragères et de leurs ennemis naturels et mesures de lutte applicables à l’Ouest canadien). Biological and monitoring information related to wireworms in field crops is posted by Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.