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Wireworms An Unwelcome Early Season Pest

Wireworms An Unwelcome Early Season Pest
Grain-bait method may do the job depending upon infestation level, but seed insecticide is another way to go.

One of the pests that you may encounter on part of your farm is wireworms. The pest gets its name from the wiry appearance of the slender, copper-colored larvae that hatch in time to work on germinating and young corn seedlings.

"This pest tends to show up in patches in a field," says Mark Lawson, Danville, a Syngenta support agronomist and farmer. Wireworms are more likely when lots of organic matter has been applied to the soil, such as through a manure application. It tends to attack the beetles that lay eggs there.

Seed insecticide may do the job on wireworms, depending upon infestation level. (Purdue photo)

What many people don't realize, Lawson notes, is that the life cycle for wireworms covers a two to six-year period. This means that once you have a problem with them in a field, likely more so in one area or path rather than the entire field, they may come back up to six years later from that original infestation.

You can set out bait traits for them, consisting of handfuls of grain placed in a shallow pit and covered with black plastic. Germinating grain attracts wireworms if any larvae are present. The problem with the grain-bait method is that it takes at least two weeks before you can dig up a trap and determine if any wireworm larvae were attracted to it, Lawson notes.

The better alternative to grain is to plant seed that contains an insecticide. Nearly every brand today carries an insecticide on it. Syngenta utilizes Cruiser as the insecticide on its seed.

What you need to know, Lawson says, whomever you work with on seed, is what insecticide is on the seed and at what level. Some companies apply the insecticide at different levels than other companies.

Seed insecticide will typically provide control, unless the wireworm infestation is heavy, he says. Then you may need to apply a soil insecticide if you still have that capability on your planter.

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