Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles, feed on the roots and underground stems of wheat plants. Leading to stunted growth, reduced plant vigor, and potential pathogen entry points for secondary infections, these pests can result in lower yields and financial losses.

Learning how to scout for, identify, and treat wireworms through effective management strategies and products can help control wireworm populations and minimize their negative impacts on wheat crops.

(Image Credit: Steve L. Brown, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org)

Wireworm, Steve L. Brown, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

How to Identify Wireworms

Because they spend most of their life cycle hidden beneath the soil, wireworms can often be challenging to identify. However, there are several key characteristics that can assist in identifying their presence.

Wireworms are slender and cylindrical, with a hard, shiny, copper-brown exoskeleton. Their size can vary, ranging from 1/4 to 1 inch in length, depending on their age. When disturbed, they tend to assume a distinct "C" shape, resembling a wire (thus their name).

Given that wireworm damage often resembles that caused by other pests or environmental factors, wireworm detection can also sometimes prove challenging. To scout for wireworms, look out for:

  • Wilting or yellowing plants

  • Uneven stands in a wheat field

  • Small holes or tunnels in the roots or underground stems

  • The presence of adult click beetles in the vicinity of the wheat field

Regions Affected by Wireworms

Wireworms are commonly found in areas with heavy clay or loam soils. In North America, wireworms are particularly prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Great Plains. However, wireworms can be present in any region where wheat is grown.

Timing of Wireworm Activity

Wireworms are most active during the early stages of the wheat growing season, from late winter to early spring when the soil temperature reaches around 50°F (10°C). This critical period is when wireworms pose the greatest threat to a wheat crop.

How to Manage Wireworms

Before considering chemical treatments, first assess the severity of the wireworm infestation. Integrated pest management strategies such as crop rotation, trap crops, and biological controls can go a long way in managing wireworm populations effectively.

Rotating crops and incorporating trap crops into a rotation plan can help disrupt the wireworm life cycle and reduce their numbers. Additionally, introducing biological controls, such as beneficial nematodes or entomopathogenic fungi, can provide natural enemies to help control wireworm populations.

Seed-applied neonicotinoid insecticides containing imidacloprid* or thiamethoxam can slow insect feeding when plants are most vulnerable to damage. Broflanilide, a newer chemistry class, may be more effective at managing wireworms in wheat when applied as a seed treatment.

Carefully read and follow product labels to ensure proper application rates and timing, maximize efficacy, and minimize potential negative impacts on the environment.


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Every product that labels WIREWORM as a weed, pest, or disease the product can be applied against is shown below. Click any product for label and more information.
Acceleron® I-374 Insecticide Seed TreatmentAcceleron® I-609 Insecticide Seed TreatmentAcceleron® IC-609Acceleron® IDL-810Acenthrin™Acronyx™ 2 FlowableAcronyx™ 4 FAdage™Adage™ STAdmire® ProAdvise® 2FLAdvise® FourAdvise® FourAlias® 2FAlias® 4FAncora® Microbial InsecticideAnnex® LFR®Arctic® 3.2 ECAthena™ Insecticide/MiticideAttendant® 480 FSAttendant® 600 FSAvenger™ S3™Avicta® Complete Beans 500Avicta® Complete Corn 250Avicta® Duo CornAvicta® Duo COT202Avicta® Duo CottonAxcess™ Insecticide Seed TreatmentAzera® InsecticideAztec® 2.1% Granular InsecticideAztec® 4.67 GAztec® HCAztec® HC SmartCartridge™Aztec® SmartBox® 4.67 GBatallion™ 10 WSPBatallion™ 2 ECBatallion™ LFCBaythroid® XLBelay® InsecticideBi-Dash 2EBifen 2 AG GoldBifen 25% ECBifender® FC InsecticideBifenthrin 2EC InsecticideBifenture® 10DFBifenture® ECBifenture® LFCBioST™ Insecticide 100BioST™ Nematicide 100Bolton™BotaniGard® 22WPBotaniGard® ESBrigade® 2EC Insecticide/MiticideBrigade® WSB InsecticideBrigadier® InsecticideCapture® 2EC-CALCapture® 3RIVE 3DCapture® LFR®Cavalry™ IICerealStar™ Select STChlorpyrifos 15GChlorpyrifos 4E AG (Adama)Chlorpyrifos 4E-AG (Drexel)Clariva® Elite BeansCobalt® AdvancedCobalt® InsecticideConcur® Seed TreatmentCounter® 15-G Lock'n Load®Counter® 15G Smartbox®Counter® 20G Lock'n Load®Counter® 20G Smartbox®Counter® 20G SmartCartridge®Couraze® 2FCouraze® 4Couraze® 4FCruiser® 5FSCruiser® 70 WSCruiser® Vibrance® QuattroCruiserMaxx®CruiserMaxx® AdvancedCruiserMaxx® APXCruiserMaxx® APX UncoloredCruiserMaxx® CerealsCruiserMaxx® EZCruiserMaxx® PeanutsCruiserMaxx® PlusCruiserMaxx® Vibrance®CruiserMaxx® Vibrance® CerealsCruiserMaxx® Vibrance® PulsesCrusader 2MECrusader® 1ECDeadlock™ GDebug® ONDebug® ONDebug® OptimoDebug® OptimoDebug® TresDebug® TresDebug® TurboDebug® TurboDeclare® InsecticideDeclare® InsecticideDefcon® 4.67GDefcon™ 2.1GDiazinon 50WDiazinon AG500Diazinon AG500Diazinon AG600 WBC InsecticideDiscipline® 2ECDiscipline® CADominus®Durivo®Dyna-Shield Conquest™Dyna-Shield® Foothold® Virock™Dyna-Shield® Foothold™ ExtraDyna-Shield® Imidacloprid 5Elliptica™Empower 2®Enhance® AWEnvirepel 50™Envirepel-38™Equity® VIPEquity™Ethos® 3D Insecticide/FungicideEthos® Elite LFR® Insecticide/BiofungicideEthos® XB Insecticide/FungicideFanfare® 2ECFanfare® ECFanfare® ESFastac® CS insecticideFirestone™Force® 10G HL SmartBox®Force® 10G HL Smartcartridge™Force® 3GForce® 3G SmartBox®Force® 6.5GForce® CSForce® EvoFortenza®Fortress® 5G InsecticideFrenzy AttackFrenzy VelozFurious® InsecticideGaucho® 600 FlowableGaucho® XT FlowableGCS Bifenthrin 2ECGCS Bifenthrin LFCGovern® 4EGrizzly® TooGrizzly® Z InsecticideHatchet® InsecticideHelix XTra®Helix® Vibrance®Hero® EWHero® InsecticideIMAX PlusImidan® 70-W (Water Soluble Bags)Imidashot DF InsecticideIndex® Liquid At-Plant InsecticideInLine® Soil Fungicide and NematicideINOVATE™ Seed ProtectantINOVATE™ System Kit (2 Pieces)INTEGO® SUITE Cereals OFINTEGO™ SUITE SoybeansINTEGO™ SUITE SystemKaiso® 24 WGKarate® InsecticideKarate® with Zeon™ TechnologyKendo® 22.8 CSKendo™ InsecticideKernel Guard® SupremeL - C InsecticideLambda TLambda-Cy AGLambda-Cy™ EC Insecticide-RUPLambdafos™ InsecticideLamcap® IILamcap™Lancer® FCLancer™ 2ECLatitude®Legend™ 5L STLegumeStar™ Select STLorsban® 15G Granular InsecticideLorsban® 15G Smartbox®Lorsban® 75 WGLorsban® Advanced InsecticideLorsban®-4E InsecticideLumiderm®Lumisure®Lumivia®Machete® InsecticideMacho® 2.0 FLMacho® 4.0 FlowableMacho® 480 STMacho® 600 STMajestene®Malice® 2FManticor™ LFR® In-Furrow Fungicide/InsecticideMatch-Up™ InsecticideMidash 2SC Ag InsecticideMocap® 15% Granular Lock’N LoadMocap® 15% Granular Nematicide-InsecticideMocap® EC Nematicide-InsecticideMontana® 2FMontana® 4FMovento®Movento® HLMovento® MPCMustang® InsecticideMustang® MaxxMycotrol® ESOMycotrol® WPONipsIt INSIDE® InsecticideNipsIt® SUITE Cereals OF Seed ProtectantNitro Shield®Nitro Shield® IVNufarm Lambda-Cyhalothrin 1EC InsecticideNufos® 4E (RUP)Nuprid® 2SC Soil/Foliar InsecticideNuprid® 4.6F ProNuprid® 4F Max InsecticideNurizma™ InsecticideObelisk™Omni® Brand Imidacloprid 2F Flowable InsecticideParadigm®Paradigm® VCPerm-UP® 3.2 ECPermaStar™ AG InsecticidePermethrinPermethrin 3.2 AGPermethrin 3.2 ECPermethrin 3.2 EC (70506-9-5905)PFR-97® 20% WDGPlatinum®Platinum® 75 SGPoncho® 600 Seed TreatmentPoncho® BetaPoncho® VOTiVO®Poncho® Votivo® Precise Seed TreatmentPoncho® Votivo® Seed TreatmentPoncho® XC Seed TreatmentPounce® 1.5GPrecept™ InsecticideProaxis® InsecticideProaxis® InsecticideProaxis™Province® IIProvince™Provoke™Rancona® CrestRancona® Crest WRRavage®Raxil® PRO ShieldRegent® 4 SC insecticideResonate™ 480 STResonate™ 600 STRespect® insecticideReveal®Reveal® CAReveal® Endurx™Revere® 2.0Revize® Imida STRuckus™ LFR® InsecticideSalient™ TMI Seed TreatmentSativa® IM RTU Seed TreatmentSativa® IMF Max Seed TreatmentSativa® IMF Sembolite™ MaxSaurus™Seed Shield® BeansSeed Shield® CerealsSeed Shield® SoybeanSeguroSenator® 600 FSSerpent™ 1 ECSharda Imidacloprid 5SCSilencer®Silencer® VXN™Skyraider®SlugbugSmartChoice® HCSmartChoice™ 5G Lock 'n LoadSmartChoice™ 5G SmartBoxSniper®Sniper® Helios®Sniper® LFR®SoyStar™ Elite STSoyStar™ Premier STSoyStar™ Select STSoyStar™ Supreme STSpirato® IMTm 348 FSSTartUP™ BIFEN Seed TreatmentSTartUP™ IMIDA Seed TreatmentSteed® InsecticideSultrus™Swagger®Tailgunner™TebuStar® Elite STTebuStar® IM Extra STTebuStar® IM STTelone® C-17 Soil Fungicide and NematicideTelone® C-35 Soil Fungicide and NematicideTelone® II Soil FumigantTELONE™ C-35 Soil Fungicide and NematicideTELONE™ II Soil FumigantTemitry™ LFR®Tempest™ Dual-Action InsecticideTenkoz® Permethrin 3.2 ECTepera® PlusTepera® Plus HDTepera® Plus HDTeraxxa™ F4 Seed TreatmentTeraxxa™ Seed TreatmentThimet® 20-G EZ Load®Thimet® 20-G Lock 'N Load®Thimet® 20-G SmartBox®Tide Imidacloprid 2FTide Imidacloprid 4FTombstone™Tombstone™ Helios®Tundra® EC (1381-196)Tundra® LFCTundra® SupremeUpShot™ Soybean Seed TreatmentVenerate® CGVenerate® XCVigilance NematicideViloprid™ FC 1.7Voltage Endurx®Vulcan®Warden® Cereals 360Warden® Cereals HRWarden® Cereals WRWarden® Cereals WRIIWarden® CXWarden® CX IIWarhawk®Warhawk® ClearForm®Warrior II with Zeon Technology®Whirlwind®Widow® InsecticideWillowood Bifenthrin 2ECWillowood Imidacloprid 2SCWillowood Imidacloprid 4SCWillowood Imidacloprid 4STWillowood Lambda 1ECWillowood Lambda-Cy 1ECWrangler® InsecticideWrath® InsecticideXpedient® Plus™Xpedient® Plus™ VYuma® 4EZelto®