How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Scientific names: Aeolus sp., Anchastus spp., Melanotus spp., Limonius spp.
In this Guideline:
Wireworms are found in the soil where they feed on the roots of various cereals. Damage
is done by the larval stage, which is a yellowish brown, thin worm that has a
shiny, tough skin.
Wireworms feed on roots of emerging plants, killing the seedlings
and reducing the stand. As plants mature, wireworms may girdle the stem,
causing white heads. In appearance, this damage is similar to that caused by
common root rot, take-all, or wheat stem maggot. Be sure to dig around the
plant and look for wireworm larvae to confirm that they are the cause of
In fields known to contain wireworm
larvae, fallow during summer with frequent tillage (springtooth or disk).
Damage from wireworm infestations to the crop when it is in the seedling stage
can sometimes be reduced by replanting, if replanting occurs before existing
plants begin to tiller. Rotate to nonhost crops if possible. Contact your
county farm advisor for information regarding nonhosts. Do not plant a
susceptible host crop following a cereal crop that has had a heavy infestation
of wireworm without fallowing/tilling or applying a pesticide.
Wireworm infestations are difficult to
detect prior to visible plant injury. They are most likely to be found following
a long-term legume crop or natural or temporary pasture.
Chemical controls are ineffective or
impossible to apply to wireworms attacking a standing crop. If used, chemicals
must be applied as preplant or seed treatments. If an insecticide is to be used
before planting a cereal crop or rotational crop, check the label for plantback
restrictions or possible residue problems.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Small Grains
UC ANR Publication 3466
Insects and Mites
C. G. Summers, Entomology, UC Davis/Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
L. D. Godfrey, Entomology, UC Davis
Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
D. Gonzalez, Entomology, UC Riverside
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