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True wireworms

Agronomist, Katrina Swift (Pro-Ag), has reported observing wireworms in several wheat paddocks south of Forbes, in the Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. Katrina says the larvae, which have been found in moderate numbers, are feeding on the germinating wheat shoots.

True wireworms (Family: Elateridae) are largely confined to cereals, although they are occasionally reported to feed on canola and some pulse crops. Larvae will typically feed on germinating seed and underground stems of cereals and may also attack the roots of seedlings. This can cause wilting and seedling death. Damage can result in thinning and bare patches within crops, and severe feeding damage may require re-sowing.

The larvae grow between 15–40 mm, are soft-bodied, flattened and slow moving grubs. Their body colour ranges from creamy yellow in the most common species to reddish-brown. Their heads are usually dark brown and wedge-shaped. Wireworm problems are often associated with stubble retention and trash from previous crops, which is true of the affected paddocks reported by Katrina.

For further information on wireworms, refer to PestFacts Issue No. 1.

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