Wireworms aren’t just a Saskatchewan and Alberta problem any more. Right now, they’re damaging crops across Manitoba. Farmers and agronomists are digging up the destructive pests in Oakner, Brandon, Dauphin and even the Red River Valley. Here’s what you need to know about wireworms.
Wireworms are affecting all soil types
For a long time, we assumed wireworms weren’t a Manitoba problem, or they only affected light soil types. Unfortunately, those days are over. Populations are so high they’re turning up in heavy clay and light gravel fields across the province. Wireworms are most common in wheat, but when the populations are high enough, they will damage other crops too.
Look for patchy fields and withered plants
Check your fields for bare patches and withered or unhealthy looking plants. Unlike cutworms, wireworms migrate deep into the soil to find moisture. Get a trowel and dig around to see if wireworms are chewing at the seed or root.
Wireworms are slender and can grow up to 1 ¼ inches in length. They have hard bodies, three pairs of legs behind their head and are often tan in colour.
Plan to include an insecticide with your seed treatment
Unfortunately, if you didn’t include an insecticide with your seed treatment, there’s nothing you can do to control wireworms in your field this year. Make note of affected fields and plan to include insecticide with your seed treatment next year. While it’s an additional cost, it will protect your seed from pests and ensure your crop comes up in the spring.
For more information on wireworms and insecticides, contact your agronomist.