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How to kill wireworms

The wireworm, larvae of the click beetle, poses a serious threat to various crops such as potatoes, barley and corn. Most active during a wet, cool spring, wireworms damage crops by consuming the roots, stalks and crowns. The plant will wilt and die from the wireworm's heavy feeding or become severely stunted. Chestnut in colour, the hard-bodied worm often measures up to 1 1/4 inches in length.

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  1. Till the field thoroughly before planting. Wireworms thrive in fields that have been allowed to accumulate abundant thatch. Thoroughly tilling the soil will expose worms and adult beetles to weather conditions, which will cut down on the population.

  2. Apply a soil liquid insecticide labelled for wireworms prior to planting the field. Spray the insecticide when the soil temperature is 10 degrees C or above. Insecticides that contain bifenthrin and imidacloprid will help control wireworms.

  3. Spread granular insecticides labelled for wireworm control directly into furrows. Follow the directions on the insecticide label to determine the correct amount to spread.

  4. Tip

    Plant potatoes after the soil has warmed, since wireworms thrive in cool soil conditions. Apply insecticides for fields that will contain tobacco 10 days before planting the crop. Wireworm larvae can live in the soil for two to six years.


    Read insecticides labels to determine if it can safely be used with the crop to be planted in the field. Only use insecticides when the infestation of wireworms is severe, because insecticides can also kill beneficial insects. Keep all insecticides out of the reach of children and pets.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tiller
  • Liquid insecticide
  • Granular insecticide

About the Author

Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.

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