sustainability through science & innovation

True wireworms

True wireworms are very difficult to control once the crop is up

Where have they been reported?

True wireworms have been found eating the seed and germinating plants in a wheat crop near Barham, in the NSW Riverina, just north of Kerang. Reasonable numbers of the pest were found approximately 20 mm underground at about the drill line.

True wireworms as found in damaged wheat (Source: Peter Hird)


About true wireworms

True wireworms are the larvae of several species of the Australian native beetles commonly known as ‘click’ beetles. The larvae grow between 15-40 mm in length, are soft-bodied, slightly flattened and slow moving. True wireworms feed on underground roots, seeds and stems. They are largely confined to cereals, although larvae are occasionally reported in pulse crops and canola. 

You can distinguish true from false wireworms by the fine hairs on their bodies and by the last abdominal segment, which is noticeably flattened with lateral serrations. 

For more comprehensive information on true wireworms, including their occurrence, lifecycle, behaviour, damage symptoms and management strategies, go to true wireworms within the new PestNote series.

Our advice

Early identification and detection of true (and false) wireworms is important before sowing. Once feeding damage has become obvious it is too late to implement effective control. At this stage of the season, control with insecticides is particularly challenging because the chemical is unlikely to leach through the soil and come in contact with wireworms. In situations where feeding damage is severe, the only effective option is to re-sow affected areas.


Feedback: We value your feedback on content, quality and relevance of this article. Please send feedback to

Source of field reports of true wireworms

Peter Hird – Merchandise Sales, Elders (NSW Riverina)

PestFacts is supported by