Wireworms


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Wireworms

 

the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae); pests of many agricultural crops and trees. The body resembles a piece of wire: it is long, thin, cylindrical (less commonly, flat), and covered with a thick cuticula. The coloration is yellow, cinnamon brown, or chestnut; rarely is it gray. There are three pairs of legs of equal length (in contrast to the legs of false wire-worms of the family Tenebrionidae). The USSR has more than 50 species of destructive wireworms. The worms usually live in soil, and their development into adults takes three to five years.

Many wireworm species feed on sown seeds and on the underground parts of plants. The most commonly infested crops include corn, sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, and rye. Wireworms cause considerable damage to seedlings in nurseries and in shel-terbelts for fields. The most common, numerous, and destructive larvae are Agriotes obscurus, A. sputator, A. linealus, A. gur-gistanus, Selatosumus latus, S. aeneus, and S. spretus.

There are several effective control measures, including destruction of weeds (especially feather grass, on which wire-worms often feed), use of ammonia fertilizers, and liming of acid soils. Also effective in destroying the larvae, pupae, and eggs of click beetles are autumn plowing, presowing cultivation of fall-plowed fields, and deep interrow tilling. Seeds may be treated with insecticides before sowing. To protect small areas the use of poisoned bait plants, that is, oat, barley, or corn seeds impregnated with insecticide, is effective. Broadcast before the actual crop is sown, the bait plants yield toxic shoots that destroy the wireworms.

REFERENCE

Pospelov, S. M., M. V. Arsen’eva, and G. S. Gruzdev. Zashchita rastenii. Leningrad, 1973.

B. V. DOBROVOL’SKII

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