Wireworms biology & life cycle
Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles and a common pest found in field and vegetable crops. Adult click beetles overwinter in the soil and emerge in the early spring, around late April to early May. Each female lays 200 to 400 eggs between late May and early June, depositing them on the soil surface down to a depth of 15 cm (nearly 6 inches).
The larvae hatch within three to seven weeks and spend the next three to five years feeding on roots and germinating seeds and moving up and down in the soil profile. When they’re ready, larvae go through a short pupation, about a month long, and emerge as adult click beetles in the soil. They overwinter there and emerge the following spring to lay eggs and begin the cycle again.
There are many different species of wireworms within the Family Elateridae, but the three most predominant species of economic concern to Canadian prairie crops are Selatosomus aeripennis destructor, Hypnoidus bicolor and Limonius californicus. All of these species can be found together in the same field. Check the wireworm map (below) for the location nearest you to see what species were identified in our wireworm surveys.
Different wireworm species are able to do different levels of damage. H. bicolor is the most common species but is smaller and therefore able to do less damage at moderate populations. S. destructor larvae are the largest of the three significant species, and the most destructive even at moderate populations. Heavy infestations of S. destructor can lead to a cereal crop failure.
Because of their long and somewhat variable life cycle, it’s important to note that a field infested with wireworms is likely to contain populations at all growth stages, at the same time.