Haley Catton, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Lethbridge research station, spoke to farmers about wireworm at Alberta’s FarmTech conference in Edmonton in January.
The wireworms that feed on seed and seedlings underneath the ground, Catton said, are the larvae of click beetles. “It’s not a worm at all, actually.”
These insects can spend years in the dangerous larval stage, depending on which species they are. “They are very hardy and very flexible,” Catton said. “They will feed on most crops.”
Right now, seed treatments are the only chemical control option available to farmers dealing with wireworms. Once neonicotinoids are phased out, there will be no chemical control options.
However, there is good news. Catton says new products are on the way, and “may be released in just a matter of years.” These new products are expected to actually kill the damage-causing wireworms. “But it doesn’t mean we need to stop learning about these pests,” Catton said, “because they’re complicated insects.”