Wireworm — Control of Wireworm Pests in Garden Soils

Wireworm

Wireworm are soil dwelling insect larvae that damage roots of grasses and tubers of vegetables and other plants.

Identify the problem

Wireworm (click beetle larvae) attack many plants. Worst affected are lawn grasses, potatoes, wheat, maize, brassicas and root vegetables in the home garden. They are also often found in rotting wood. Damage is caused to newly planted seedlings which often wilt and die after been attacked. Holes are eaten at the base of plants, below soil level and roots chewed. Damage often allows fungal and bacterial diseases to infect the plants through the damaged tissue.

Solutions

To Get Rid of Wireworm:

  • Apply LawnPro Protect to affected soil at the rate of 10g per square metre and water well in.

Prevention

To prevent wireworm it is recommended that damaged plants and vegetables are disposed of and crops are rotated for the following year to reduce the likelihood of future infestations. It may also be advisable to carry out a preventative treatment with LawnPro Protect prior to planting.

If the wireworm are in your potatoes or other crops you should consider the following:

  • Thorough cultivation makes conditions unfavourable to the egg laying adults and exposes all stages of the pest to weather and natural enemies.
  • Potatoes make great wireworm traps. Cut a potato in half and run a stick through the middle. Bury the spud about one inch deep so that the stick stands vertically as a handle. Pull the traps out after a day or two and discard wireworms.
  • Drench with Kiwicare Organic Insect Control is also recommended, but should only be used as a last resort.
  • Tip: If possible, wait until the soil has warmed before planting potatoes or other tubers. Wireworm prefer cool soils and dig deeper into the ground when temperatures rise.

Did You Know

  • The adult wireworms, click beetles, are small brown or black beetles, rather elongate in shape and somewhat flattened. They have a habit of springing into the air if disturbed, and if they fall on their backs, by a sudden flexing of the body they produce a clicking sound.
  • The larvae (wireworms) are elongate cylindrical or flattened with three pairs of small legs close to the head end. The body is pale brown in colour, shiny and tough. They reach a length of 15-30mm dependent on species. They are often found with their head end buried in damaged root tissue. Eggs are laid in the soil, usually in pasture. The young wireworms spend at least a year in the soil before they mature ready to pupate.
  • The scientific name of the pasture wireworm (click beetle) is — Conoderus exsul

Tips

Wireworm prevention in vegetable plots:

  • Click beetle larvae prefer cool soils and dig deeper into the ground when temperatures rise. Hold off planting tubers and corms until soil warms up.
  • Keep soil bare until you are ready to plant.
  • Regular crop rotation will help keep populations down.

www.kiwicare.co.nz

Wireworm Control for Potatoes

Potatoes are among the wireworm’s favorite foods.

Related Articles

Growing unusual and interesting varieties of potatoes is one of the great pleasures of home gardening, but the presence of wireworms can quickly dim the joy. These pests burrow into potatoes; the longer the tubers are in the ground, the more damage they sustain. Controlling wireworms can be difficult once they are established, but gardeners can take action to eliminate or minimize the problem.

Description

Wireworms are brownish-red to pale cream in color and about 0.5 inches long, with a hard, segmented exterior, small legs and curved pincers. These pests are click beetle larvae and may take anywhere from two to six years to mature into their final form. They are attracted to wet soil and typically live in higher numbers in shady spots or low areas that retain a lot of moisture. They move up and down in the soil, depending on the weather, moving down to escape very hot or cold conditions, and tunneling back up when the weather is about 70 to 80 degrees F.

Damage

Wireworms live underground full time and are voracious eaters of plant roots and tubers, though they will also eat other insects if they encounter them. These pests are particularly attracted to potatoes, burrowing into them and causing the tubers to become deformed. In dry areas, they may tunnel into the potatoes for the moisture as well as for food, causing additional damage and rendering the potatoes inedible. Wireworm holes also allow diseases to enter potatoes, causing further damage.

Sampling

Because wireworms are subterranean until they mature and emerge as click beetles, it can be hard to identify whether or not they are living in a specific area. The easiest way to be sure is to set out some bait in the proposed garden area, and then see if wireworms respond. Dig a series of holes 4 to 6 inches deep, about three feet apart, in the proposed garden area. Place large pieces of carrots in the holes, cover them with boards, leave them for several days, and then dig them up and look for wireworms or tunnels in the carrots. If the carrots remain untouched, it is unlikely that wireworms are present.

Control

Since wireworms are hard to control once they have invaded a garden, the best means of dealing with them is prevention. Don’t plant potatoes in areas that have a high likelihood of harboring wireworms, such as areas known to have had wireworms in the past and areas that were recently covered in grass or clover. Rotate crops so that the wireworms don’t have access to their favorite foods every year. Pesticides are not helpful against wireworms, as no chemical agents or biological controls have proven to be both effective and safe for home use. In areas where wireworms are a problem, set up bait areas and remove wireworms from them every two or three days to minimize the number of pests in the soil. Digging up the soil and allowing it to dry out completely the year before planting potatoes will help to kill wireworms, and rotating crops minimizes the chances that wireworms can survive from one year to the next.

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Wireworm Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Wireworms

Wireworms are small and they have a white body when they are young. They are slender with a hard and jointed body. The color is reddish-brown, but there are also some that are white or yellow. Their length will be about ¼ to ¾ inch. They have three pairs of short legs and a notched tail. As they grow older, their color also becomes darker. It takes about six years before the larvae fully mature. By this time, it will grow a hard shell and the body will appear rusty.

Wireworms are Destructive only When They are Larvae

Wireworm’s Habitat

The habitat of wireworms will depend on their specific stage of development or the weather. Like most pests, they do not attack during the cold season. With this, they often overwinter two feet under the ground. As the temperature becomes warmer, they move to the surface of the soil. They favor soil with a temperature that ranges from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Aside from the ground, they also survive in rotten wood or decaying vegetation. In their host plants, injury is common in the roots and seeds.

Identifying Wireworm’s Damage

Plants Affected

The host will depend on the species of the wireworm that are present in the garden or agricultural land. Generally speaking, some of the most common hosts include grassy weeds, alfalfa, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, sugar beets, lettuce, corn, sunflower, onion, and canola. Also, germinating seeds emit carbon dioxide, which can attract wireworms.

Symptoms

Watch out for the following signs that will be indicative of the presence of wireworms. When you spot any of these symptoms, be sure to act immediately to control the problem before it becomes too hard to resolve:

  • In most cases, they will feed on the underground portion of the host plant. They will consume the roots. Because the roots are under the soil, the damage on such part will not be easily evident. Once it damages the roots, it is inevitable that the plant will wilt and discolor.
  • You also have to check the leaves. Most of the central leaves will be dead, despite the fact that the outer leaves may seem healthy.
  • The stems will also shred, although they may not totally detach from the base or from the plant.
  • In the case of tubers and root crops, they will create entry holes. This will make the host more prone to the entry of pathogens that could encourage rotting and other health problems.

Results of Infestation

Most of the infestation of wireworms will be evident when the spring season starts, which is when they climb up the ground from under the soil. The chewing on the tissues of the plant will cause esthetic damage, and in the end, will deprive the plants of the nutrients that are necessary for its survival. Eventually, this will lead to killing the plant. In large agricultural lands, this would be a huge profit loss for commercial growers since the crops will no longer be marketable.

Corns Damaged by Wireworms

How to Get Rid of Wireworms

Natural and Organic Solutions

Looking for the best ways to eliminate and prevent wireworms without resorting to toxic methods? Below are some of the solutions that can deliver promising results:

  • Sanitation is one of the best things that you can do. It is good to keep the garden clean so that the wireworms will not be able to find a suitable habitat. See to it that there is no leaf litter, decaying vegetation, or rotting wood, among other debris that will give the pest a place to live or hide.
  • Tilling the soil is another simple solution that will work. Even raking the ground will be a good method to get rid of the wireworms. Doing so will expose them on the surface. You can handpick the wireworms as many of them are easily visible. Throw them in a bucket of soapy water, which will instantly kill the pest and prevent them from spreading infestation.
  • You might also want to consider crop rotation. Considering the fact that wireworms can live for several years, it will be good to plant different crops after every harvest season. As much as possible concentrate on those that are more resistant to wireworms. Buckwheat and flax are some of the best examples of plants that are not susceptible to infestation of wireworms.
  • There are also traps that you can set out to get rid of wireworms. Cut potato studs into half, remove the eye, and spear it on a stick. Bury it on the ground while exposing the stick so that you can remove it easily later on. After about a week, pull the stick and you will see the wireworms feeding on the potato.
  • The use of predatory nematodes will also be a promising solution. They are so tiny. In fact, almost a million of them can survive in a two-inch sponge. These roundworms are great because they will kill only the pest. They will not harm humans, mammals, or the environment in general.
  • There are other biological controls that can also prove to be equally effective. For instance, you can encourage the presence of birds in the garden and they will feed on the larvae instead of having to remove them by hand. One of the best ways to attract them to the garden is to have bird feeders or water. Chickens will do an excellent job as well.

Chemical Solutions

After planting the crops, there are no insecticides that will be effective in dealing with wireworms. Instead, chemicals are only for pre-emergent treatment, specifically before planting the seeds. In this case, one of the active ingredients that can prove to be effective is thiamethoxam, which is the main component of The Cruiser Maxx. The latter is a pesticide that is popular for potatoes and cereals. When it comes to fumigants, on the other hand, common active ingredients and brand names include methyl bromide (Metabrom) and chloropicrin (Metapicrin). Using chemicals requires the need to observe caution because of having toxic components that are harmful for humans and the environment.

homyden.com

How to Get Rid of Nematodes in Tomatoes

By: Alicia Bodine

21 September, 2017

Nematodes are tiny roundworms that aren’t always seen with the naked eye. Nematodes do a good job at eating away insects and garden pests such as aphids and beetles. This is why many gardeners introduce nematodes to their soil. Unfortunately, there is one type of nematode called the plant-parasitic nematode that likes to eat the roots of plant such as tomato plants. This can cause the tomato plant to turn yellow in color, and even wilt away and die if the nematodes are not controlled.

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Uproot your tomato plants and place them in a container with fresh soil. You can even bring them inside. It is necessary to do this because you will need to treat the soil where the nematodes are living.

Use a hoe to break up the soil where you had planted your tomato plants. Bag up any stones, plant roots, or twigs that you find in that area and dispose of them.

Mix together your water and sugar. Pour this over the area where you had your tomatoes planted. You want the soil to be moist, and this mixture is better for getting rid of nematodes.

Cover your moist soil with a tarp. Make sure the edges are buried. This keeps the tarp from flying away when it gets windy.

Allow the sun to beat down on the tarp for six weeks. The ground will get hot and the heat and the sun will kill any nematodes in the soil.

Transfer your tomato plants back to their original soil that is now nematode free.

Plant some marigolds near your tomato plants. Marigolds give off a chemical that will repel nematodes from visiting the area in the future.

There is no insecticide or pesticide that has been proven to work on nematodes.

www.gardenguides.com

Slugs & Snails on Potatoes

Potatoes are a crop that is usually started quite early in the spring. Those warm, wet days we gardeners look froward to all winter long. The days when plants really start to grow and the promise of a great garden is in the air. But what else becomes active in the spring? That’s right, our slimey little friends the slugs and snails. They have spent the winter as eggs or as adults burrowed down in the soil or deep under fallen leaves. Now they are out and hungry.

Because they have many sprouts spread over a wide area potatoes are a a bit difficult to surround with barriers. However slug traps and removal by hand work quite well, as does bait. We highly recommend iron phosphate based baits instead of the older types as they are much safer for children, pets and wildlife. Spring and autumn are the most effective times to apply slug and snail bait.

Potatoes are a great crop and can yield more food per square foot than any other plant. Once the weather turns warm and dry the slug activity should really drop off. All you have to do now is harvest those delicious spuds, right? Not quite, the little pests have one more trick!

If you live in an area with mild winters it’s possible to leave your potatoes in the ground and only dig them out as needed. Possible but maybe not a good idea. One of the great secrets of slugs is how much time they spend underground. They are capable working their way down into the soil, following the tunnels made by plant stems, cracks in the soil or even worm tunnels. Once underground they can dine on the potato tubers you have worked so hard to grow.

The potatoes in the photos below were dug in December and already the slugs have burrowed in and ruined half the crop. Imagine our friends disappointment when she cut open her beautiful “taters”only to find a chomped-on mess!

Fortunately this is an easy problem to solve. Just harvest your crop after the vines die down and store in a dark, dry place. According to the University of Idaho (and who should know better?) “The best place to store potatoes is in a ventilated, cool, dark and humid environment.”

That will stop the little stinkers!

www.allaboutslugs.com

How to Control Grub Worms in the Garden

By: Tracy Morris

21 September, 2017

Grubs can be a real menace in the garden. The worms are actually the larval state of scarab beetles, including Japanese, June and green beetles. Grubs feed on the roots of grass, ornamental shrubs and garden plants. In the garden, grubs will leave circular holes and depressions in root crops, such as potatoes, turnips and carrots. While you can use a series of chemicals on lawns to control grubs, this is not advisable for vegetables that you can eat. Instead, you can control grubs using a combination of cultural practices.

Plow your garden soil in late summer or early fall with a rototiller to expose grubs to the air and to predators such as birds. Do not break your ground up again in spring. Grubs are primarily a problem in areas where the ground was broken in spring.

Avoid rotating root crops into areas that previously held strawberries, corn grass or potatoes. These plants are favorites of grubs.

Keep your garden free of cover crops, such as clover and weeds. Adult beetles prefer to lay eggs in areas with groundcover or vegetation on them. This is why grubs are a problem in lawns.

Mix organic amendments, such as peat moss or compost, in your soil with a rototiller to improve drainage. Grubs prefer waterlogged, poorly-drained soils.

Avoid planting crops near plants that beetles prefer as host plants. Japanese beetles prefer roses and grapes. June beetles prefer oak trees and green beetles prefer ripening fruits, such as peaches.

Hand collect grubs from the ground as you rake and plow a garden. Throw grubs into a bucket of water and liquid dish soap to kill them.

Release beneficial insects, such as robber flies, into your garden. Robber flies will feed on grubs, thus killing them.

You can purchase beneficial insects online from organic and natural insecticide companies.

www.gardenguides.com

19 Home Remedies & Rat Repellents To Get Rid Of Rats

The two most common species of rats are the Norway rats and the Roof rats. Rats are incredibly efficient in ravaging pet food, garbage bins, and food droppings.

As filthy rodents, they carry numerous diseases such as rat bite fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, etc.

Some of the signs that you have an issue of rat infestation include;

  • Sighting of rat droppings
  • Gnaw marks on fixtures and furniture
  • Inexplicable fabric holes

Here are some good practices to note when dealing with rats;

  • Keep foodstuff in well-sealed containers.
  • Get rid of stagnant water puddles in your yard or gardens.
  • Keep your yard litter-free.
  • Keep your garbage bin clean and well-covered.
  • Remove all leftover food and grease from BBQ grills.
  • Cut shrubs and weeds around your yard or garden.
  • Once you notice signs of a rat infestation, ensure you frequently clean floor with antiseptic to protect your family from rat-causing diseases.

Below are 19 natural home remedies to get rid of rats;

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1. Repel Rats With Peppermint Oil


The strong and pungent smell of peppermint annoy rats and prevent them from coming to your house and yard.

Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil over a few cotton balls and place them at different places in the house. If the rats are destroying your garden, plant mint in small pots to permanently repel them.

2. Scare Them With Owl’s Feathers


Rats get scared by the presence of owls as owls prey on them. Placing a few owl’s feathers in the entryways and near their holes will scare them and deter them from your home.

You may also use toy models of owls and snakes to make the rats feel their predator’s presence.

3. Use Bay Leaves


Rats get attracted to the sweet smell of bay leaves. As a result, they try to eat it and die out of toxicity.

All you have to do is just place a few bay leaves in corners, near the garbage bin and inside their holes to get rid of them.

4. The Plaster Of Paris Trick


We can make a homemade rat killer poison by mixing 100gm of Plaster of Paris with 100 gm of cornmeal. Add one and half cups of milk into it and knead well. Make sure the mixture does not become too runny.

Make small balls with the knead and place it near the most visited placed or inside their holes. The cornmeal and milk will act as an enticer and make the rats feast on it.

They will be eating the Plaster of Paris which will get hardened in their digestive tract killing them.

5. Get Cow Dung


Cow dung can be effectively used to get rid of rats from your yard. If you have some of them,as manure, around your garden and precious plants, just spread some cow dung cakes, strategically, around your garden and farm.

The rats will eat it and suffer from stomach inflammation and death.

Cow dung act as a manure and help in making the soil more fertile. This is a great way to get rid of rats that are outdoors or in places like chicken coops.

6. Drive Them Away With Castor Oil


Castor oil repels rats in an efficient way. Sprinkle a few drops of the oil near the entry points and at places where you spot them most.

You can also dip some cotton balls in castor oil and place in areas where the rats usually wander.

Alternatively, you can also use citronella oil in the same way to repel them.

7. Sprinkle Baby Powder


You may use baby powder to get rid of rats, but this method does not always work. Well, there is no harm in trying this easy way to eliminate them.

All you have to do is get hold of baby powder and sprinkle it in the hiding places of the rats. As they come in contact with the strong smell, they feel intoxicated, and this is when you can catch them.

8. Lay Humane Traps


If you can arrange a rat trap, you can completely eliminate all the rats from your home one by one.

Set up the trap with a bait in it and wait for the pesky rodent to get trapped in it. Relocate it to a distant place to prevent them from returning.

9. Spread Toilet Cakes


Most toilet cakes have a strong smell that repels rodents out of your house. While the smell feels extremely refreshing to us, it is highly disliked by the rats.

Place a few toilet cakes in corners, attic, porches, and basements to prevent them from entering.

10. Use Cat/Snake Litter


Cat and snake are two of the biggest predators of rats and if rats sense their presence in your house, they would vacate the place.

Get some cat litter or dried snake litter from the zoo or the local pet store and spread it in the places where you notice them most.

11. Repair Holes


There is nothing better than repairing the holes and cracks that the rats use to get inside your home.

Inspect, your home, for their entryways and get them repaired and sealed to stop seeing the rats around your rooms.

Also, repair the holes in the walls, as these become a favorite hiding place for rats.

12. Clove Essential Oil


Put a few drops of clove essential on a number of cotton balls and spread them around the house in places where the rats make frequent visits.

Place a few cotton balls near the garbage bin to prevent them from wandering nearby.

13. Repel Them With Onions


Rats can’t stand the pungent smell possessed by onions. Keeping a few slices in the corners and near the entry points, of rats, helps in repelling them in a natural way.

Replace the old slices with the fresh ones as soon as the smell fades out.

14. Spread Human Hair


Human hair repels the rat and they will leave your home if they find hair clipping in their nests. So, get some waste human hair from a nearby salon and spread it near their nests and in the holes to get rid of them.

15. Sprinkle Baking Soda


Baking soda, being caustic, repels rats in a cost-efficient way.

Sprinkle the white powder liberally near the corners, in holes, and around their nests. You can also use it with a bait like sugar to kill the rats.

Place a bowl of baking soda mixed with sugar within their access and see them vanish from your home.

16. Feed Them With Instant Mashed Potatoes


Feeding the rats with instant mashed potatoes can eventually kill them. The flakes will expand in their stomach causing bloating and death of the pesky pest.

17. Get A Cat


Cats can successfully hunt and kill the rats present in your house. As soon as the rat senses the presence of a cat at home, it leaves your home for another place.

18. Patch Holes With Steel Wool


Steel wool is easily available and can be used in a hassle-free manner to patch holes that rats frequently use.

Rats dislike the steel wool, as they can not chew their way through it, and will be deterred by steel wool’s presence in their access points.

19. Repel Rats With Ammonia


The strong pungent smell of ammonia is great for repelling rats from your home and yard.

To make ammonia rat repellent, take 2 cups of ammonia and mix it with a quarter glass of plain water. Now add about two spoons of detergent and mix well.

Pour this solution into bowls and keep it in places most visited by them.

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