Wireworm: How To Get Rid Of These Pests


The wireworm eats the roots of potatoes and other vegetables and can therefore quickly become a danger for hobby gardeners and their crops. In this article you will learn how to recognize the pest and how to control it as gently as possible.

The wireworm is the larva of the click beetle. This insect is actually harmless to your garden. But wireworms, which live in deeper layers of soil, prefer to feed on potato roots. The wireworm does not stop at other crops either. Here you can find out how to recognize the worms and how to get rid of them.

Wireworm: How to recognize it

Unlike the adult beetle, the wireworm can be very dangerous to your natural garden. So that you can react as quickly as possible in the event of an infestation, you should know exactly how to recognize the worms and the click beetles that develop from them.

Wireworm: The wireworm itself grows to about two to three centimeters in size. You can best recognize it by its hard, yellow carapace made of chitin that protects the entire body. The worm has three pairs of legs on its front body, which it uses to move forward. The wireworm also has a strong jaw and small, dot-shaped eyes on the top of its head.

Quick Beetle: After the wireworm pupates, it becomes a quick beetle. The brown to black beetles usually grow no larger than one inch and have flattened and slightly shiny bodies.

The click beetles lay their larvae in the soil in the spring. The wireworm itself prefers moist soil above all else, so they often live in deeper layers of soil.

Wireworm: These plants are at risk

Besonders häufig befallt der Drahtwurm die Kartoffelpflanze.

Wireworm can not cope very well with dry weather conditions. If there is no rain for a long time, it bores either into deeper soil layers or into vegetables that are ripe for harvesting in search of more moisture. In addition, the worms gnaw on the roots of the plants, often severely damaging them.

Especially at risk are freshly planted garden beds where grass has previously grown. Furthermore, the wireworm also eats the following plants:

  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Flower bulbs
  • Beet
  • Carrots
  • Pea
  • Asparagus

If your plants are infested with wireworm, you can recognize it by the fact that they start to wilt. In the case of potatoes, you can usually even find feeding tunnels in the tuber.

Preventing wireworm infestation

Unfortunately, the wireworm is not so easy to control, because it usually burrows very deep into the plants. Therefore, neither chemical nor natural pesticides have much effect on the pest. However, you can protect your healthy plants from the pest and prevent an infestation at an early stage.

The following methods are the best ways to prevent wireworm from spreading:

Be careful with fresh beds: Freshly turned garden beds that were recently covered with grass are the perfect breeding ground for wireworm. Therefore, to be safe, don’t plant any of the above vegetable plants in freshly dug beds. Better wait two years before you replant the soil.

Work the soil thoroughly: Before you put new plants in the soil, you should thoroughly loosen the soil. This will ensure that the soil does not become too moist. The click beetles do not lay their larvae in dry soil.

Avoid overwatering: Too much water not only harms your plants in the long run, too moist soil also attracts the wireworm. Therefore, you should always water only as much rainwater as your plant needs.

Calcium cyanamide as fertilizer: The wireworm does not like calcareous soil at all. To keep it away, you can fertilize the planting soil with calcium cyanamide about a week before sowing.

The right plant neighbors: A very nice preventive measure are marigolds and marigolds. Plant these among the vulnerable vegetable plants and the click beetles and wireworm will stay away from them, as both flowers are toxic to the animals. Planting marigolds or marigolds can also help with plants that are already infested. In addition, you can make a healing ointment from marigold.

Fight wireworm in the garden

Um den Drahtwurm natürlich zu bekämpfen, kannst du selbstgemachte Kartoffelfallen aufstellen.

Fighting wireworm with chemicals does not make sense for several reasons. First, with such pesticides you damage the flora and fauna in your garden. Secondly, the worms are quite resistant to chemical pesticides anyway. Often you can achieve an even better effect with natural pesticides and protect your plants gently from wireworms.

Dig up the garden soil in dry weather: Dryness is the wireworm’s natural enemy. If you dig up the soil on sunny days in spring or fall, the larvae from the deeper layers of soil will reach the surface. From there you can collect them or leave them as food for birds.

Natural predators: The wireworm is on the menu of many animals. The more of its predators live in your garden, the worse the worm can spread. Especially birds, ground beetles, hedgehogs and moles eat the pests. Make your garden bird-friendly to get rid of wireworm in the long run. You can also target nematodes that will eat the wireworms as well.

Potato traps: To get the wireworm out of the deeper soil layers, you can set up potato traps. To do this, cut several potatoes into thick slices and put them on wooden skewers. Now dig the skewers about five centimeters deep into the soil between the infested plants. When the first wireworms have settled on the potatoes, you can pull out the skewers again and look the potatoes including the worms in a place where they can not cause any damage.

Pre-sprout plants: The stronger your plants are when you plant them in the garden, the better equipped they will be against wireworm. That’s why it’s a good idea to pre-sprout potatoes, for example, before you put them in the ground.

Harvest potatoes early: Potatoes in particular often fall victim to wireworm. To prevent this, you should harvest the tubers as early as possible. The longer the potatoes remain in the ground, the more time the wireworm has to bore into them. Early potato varieties, for example, can be harvested in June or July.

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