Wireworms are a worm that is commonly found in vegetable gardens damaging rooted plants such as beets, carrots, and onions.
The wireworm can grow up to 1-½ inches long and have tough slender bodies with shiny yellow or brownish-red skin and 3 sets of legs. These pesky worms feed underground on germinating seeds, roots, bulbs, and tubers causing affected plants to wilt and die.
Their adult parent is commonly known as the click beetle. Adult beetles are ½ inch long and have brown or black oblong-shaped bodies. The female click beetle will mate in early spring and lay her eggs in the soil near plant hosts.
In about 2 to 4 weeks larvae fireworks emerge and work their way through the soil to hunt for food. These pests continue feeding underground for up to six years until pupation begins and adult beetles emerge, starting the life cycle of a new generation.
Even though they are not easy to find, wireworms can be controlled using natural solutions in your garden.
One of the best ways to limit an infestation is by cultivating your garden soil at least 8 inches in depth to discourage female beetles from depositing their eggs and expose any larvae wireworms to natural predators.
Birds are one of the wireworm's biggest enemies and man's best friends because they will feast on them in large quantities. To encourage birds to feast in your tilled garden, hang birdhouses nearby.
Rotating your garden vegetables is another effective method in reducing a wireworm infestation.
Use potatoes as a trap for the worms by cutting it in half and pushing a stick through it, then burying the spud 1 inch into the soil. Pull the potato trap out of the soil after a couple of days and discard the wireworms into a sealed bag into the trash.
Invest in beneficial nematodes to apply to your garden soil during planting season to destroy any developing pests in the ground.
Finally, wait until late spring or even early summer if possible to plant tubers. Wireworm larvae thrive better in cooler soil temperatures and will dig deeper into the soil and away from plants when soil temperatures are warmer.