Detecting wireworms on your farm

Using bait can help you get a better estimate of the scope of your wireworm problem.

Making a bait ball

For one ball:

  • Mix one to 1-1/2 cups of oatmeal or wheat flour with two tablespoons of honey and up to 1/2 cup of water to form a ball
  • Tie up ball in a mesh bag (e.g. an onion bag) or cheesecloth
  • Bury bait balls four to six inches in the soil and mark locations with flags
  • Evenly space approximately 20 balls per acre for a reasonable assessment of wireworm presence
  • Check baits every four to five days for wireworms

Note: Larvae may not be attracted to bait if they have sufficient feed already. Recently tilled soil may also be giving off carbon dioxide, so larvae may not be attracted to bait.

Potato Sampling

  • Bury whole potatoes 10 to 15 centimetres deep in marked locations in the spring or early- to mid-August
  • Dig potatoes up after a couple of weeks and examine for wireworm tunnels

Note: Monitor fields every year

Soil Sampling

  • Mark out areas 50 cm x 50 cm and sieve soil through a screen to a depth of 15 cm
  • Repeat in different areas of the field to determine an average number of larvae per square metre

Note: Sampling during germination will increase the likelihood of finding larvae feeding on seedlings

Source: Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s “Agri-Facts: Wireworm.”

About the author


Kari Belanger

Kari Belanger has been a writer and editor since graduating from the University of Calgary with a B.Sc. in Biology and a BA in English Literature in 1996. For more than twenty years, she has worked in many different industries and media, including newspapers and trade publications. For the past decade she has worked exclusively in the agriculture industry, leading a number of publications as editor. Kari has a particular passion for grower-focused publications and a deep respect for Canadian farmers and the work they do. Her keen interest in agronomy and love of writing have led to her long-term commitment to support, strengthen and participate in the industry.



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