How to Kill Wireworms

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Wireworms often damage beet crops.
Wireworms often damage beet crops. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The wireworm, larvae of the click beetle, poses a serious threat to various crops such as potatoes, barley and corn. Most active during a wet, cool spring, wireworms damage crops by consuming the roots, stalks and crowns. The plant will wilt and die from the wireworm's heavy feeding or become severely stunted. Chestnut in color, the hard-bodied worm often measures up to 1 1/4 inches in length.

Things You'll Need

  • Tiller
  • Liquid insecticide
  • Granular insecticide

Till the field thoroughly before planting. Wireworms thrive in fields that have been allowed to accumulate abundant thatch. Thoroughly tilling the soil will expose worms and adult beetles to weather conditions, which will cut down on the population.

Apply a soil liquid insecticide labeled for wireworms prior to planting the field. Spray the insecticide when the soil temperature is 50 degrees F or above. Insecticides that contain bifenthrin and imidacloprid will help control wireworms.

Spread granular insecticides labeled for wireworm control directly into furrows. Follow the directions on the insecticide label to determine the correct amount to spread.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant potatoes after the soil has warmed, since wireworms thrive in cool soil conditions.
  • Apply insecticides for fields that will contain tobacco 10 days before planting the crop.
  • Wireworm larvae can live in the soil for two to six years.
  • Read insecticides labels to determine if it can safely be used with the crop to be planted in the field.
  • Only use insecticides when the infestation of wireworms is severe, because insecticides can also kill beneficial insects.
  • Keep all insecticides out of the reach of children and pets.

References

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