This website is devoted to wireworm and click beetle research, with some focus on recent research
published by Drs. Bob Vernon and Wim van Herk and others, and on wireworm identification.
This is a personal website of W. van Herk; the website was not commissioned by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
For Dr. Vernon’s webpage on the official AAFC website, please follow this link.
This website is very much a work in (slow) progress and subject to continuous change.
All inquiries are to be directed to the webmaster.
Website created on March 10, 2009 and last updated March 12, 2009.
This website still under construction
Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Some 9300 species of click beetles are described worldwide (Schneider et al. 2007), and Johnson (2003) lists 91 genera in the Nearctic region alone. Bousquet (1991) lists 369 species known to Canada, the larvae of no more than 20-30 of which would most likely be considered pests (of wheat, corn, strawberry, potato, etc.).
Some of the most
important wireworm pest species in
Knowing which wireworm species is dealing with is important as wireworm life histories and wireworm susceptibility to an insecticide varies among species. However, accurate identification of wireworm species can be somewhat challenging as:
- the larval form of most click beetle species is unknown (mostly because wireworms are hard to rear to adulthood in the lab, the larval stage often lasting 3-4 years),
- good wireworm identification keys are scarce and usually limited to one genera or one geographical region; they also tend to be old and hence give obsolete names,
- species are constantly being moved around from one genera to another (e.g. some Cryptohypnus species were moved to Hypolithus and then to Hypnoidus, and most Ctenicera species described by Glen 1950 have since been moved to other genera). More on that below.
On this website we intend to give some information about wireworm identification, and provide an overview of some pertinent literature on wireworm biology and management.
Limonius canus (LeConte) Adult
Limonius canus larva
Selatosomus cruciata (Linnaeus)
Bob Vernon, MPM, Ph.D.
Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC)
link to official AAFC website
Wim van Herk, Ph.D.
Telephone: 604-796-2221 (1234)
Markus Clodius, MPM.
Recent publications (post-2000):
Arakaki, N., A. Nagayama, A. Kobayashi,
M. Kishata, Y. Sadoyama,
N. Mougi, F. Kawamura, S. Wakamura,
and K. Yamamura. 2008a.
Control of the sugarcane click beetle Melanotus okinawensis (Coleoptera: Elateridae) by mass trapping
using synthetic sex pheromone on
Arakaki, N., A. Nagayama, A. Kobayashi, Y. Hokama, Y. Sadoyama, N. Mougi, M. Kishata, K. Adaniya, K. Ueda, M. Higa, T. Shinzato, H. Kawamitsu, S. Nakama, S. Wakamura, and K. Yamamura. 2008b. Mating disruption for control of Melanotus okinawensis (Coleoptera: Elateridae) with synthetic sex pheromone. Journal of Economic Entomology 101: 1568-1574.
Bezemer, T. M., R. Wagenaar, N. M. van Dam, and F. L. Wäckers. 2003. Interactions between above- and belowground insect herbivores as mediated by the plant defense system. Oikos 101: 555-562.
R. P., and R. S. Vernon. 2008. Spatial relationships between two Agriotes
click-beetle species and wireworms in agricultural fields. Agricultural and
Blackshaw, R. P., and R. S. Vernon. 2006. Spatio-temporal stability of two beetle populations in non-farmed habitats in an agricultural landscape. Journal of Applied Ecology 43: 680–689.
Chaton, P. F., G. Lemperiere, M. Tissut, and P. Ravanel. 2008. Biological traits and feeding capacity of Agriotes larvae (Coleoptera: Elateridae): A trial of seed coating to control larval populations with the insecticide fipronil. Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 90: 97-105.
Chaton, P. F., M. H. Liegeois, J. C. Meyran, P. Ravanel, and M. Tissut. 2003. Feeding behaviour as a limiting step in insecticide absorption for the wireworm Agriotes sp. (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 77: 106-114.
Ericsson, J. D., J. T. Kabaluk, M. S. Goettel, and J. H. Myers. 2007. Spinosad interacts synergistically with the insect pathogen Metarhizium anisopliae against the exotic wireworms Agriotes lineatus and Agriotes obscurus (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Journal of Economic Entomology 100: 31-38.
Furlan, L. 2004. The biology of Agriotes sordidus
Hemerik, L., G. Gort, and L. Brussaard. 2003. Food preference of wireworms analyzed with multinomial logit models. Journal of Insect Behavior 16: 647-665.
and R. P. Blackshaw. 2008. Differential responses of three Agriotes
click beetle species to pheromone traps.
R., and P. J. Landolt. 2002.
Orientation response of
S. N., E. A. Anderson, G. Dawson, and D. W.
Johnson, S. N., and P. J. Gregory. 2008. Chemically-mediated host-plant location and selection by root feeding insects. Physiological Entomology 31: 1-13.
Kabaluk, J. T., R. S. Vernon, and M. S. Goettel. 2007. Mortality and infection of wireworm, Agriotes obscurus (Coleoptera: Elateridae), with inundative field applications of Metarhizium anisopliae. Phytoprotection 88: 51-56.
M. Kishata, Arakaki, N., F.
Kawamura, Y. Sadoyama, and K. Yamamura. 2003.
Estimation of population density and dispersal parameters of the adult
sugarcane wireworm Melanotus okinawensis Ohira (Coleoptera: Elateridae), on
E., and J. J. Howard. 2001. The biology and management of wireworms
(Agriotes spp.) on potato with particular reference to the
Samson, P. R., and A. C. Calder. 2003. Wireworm (Coleoptera: Elateridae) identity, monitoring and damage in sugarcane. Australian Journal of Entomology 42: 298-303.
Traugott, M., C. Pazmandi, R. Kaufmann, and A. Juen. 2007. Evaluating 15N/14N and 13C/12C isotope ratio analysis to investigate trophic relationships of elaterid larvae (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Soil Biology and Biochemistry 39: 1023-1030.
Traugott, M., N. Schallhart, R. Kaufmann, and A. Juen. 2008. The feeding ecology of elaterid larvae in central European arable land: New perspectives based on naturally occurring stable isotopes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 40: 342-349.
van Herk, W. G., J. T. Kabaluk, R. S. Vernon, and V. W. M. Lam. 2008. Survival of male click beetles, Agriotes obscurus L., (Coleoptera: Elateridae) during and after storage at different temperatures. J. Entomol. Soc. Brit. Columbia 105: 113-114.
Herk, W. G., and R. S. Vernon.
2008. Effect of repeated
handling and morbidity induction on the weight, recovery duration, and larval
development of the
Herk, W. G., R. S. Vernon, C. Moffat, and C. Harding. 2008.
Response of the
Herk, W.G. and
Herk, W.G. and
Herk, W.G. and
Herk, W.G. and
van Herk, W. G., R. S. Vernon, M. Clodius, C. Harding, and J. H. Tolman. 2007. Mortality of five wireworm species (Coleoptera: Elateridae), following topical application of clothianidin and chlorpyrifos. J. Entomol. Soc. Brit. Columbia 104: 55-63.
Vernon, R.S., van Herk, W.G., Tolman, J.H., Ortiz Saavedra, H., Clodius, M., and Gage, B. 2008. Transitional sublethal and lethal effects of insecticides after dermal exposures to five economic species of wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae).", Journal of Economic Entomology, 101(2), pp. 365-374.
Vernon, R. S. 2005. Aggregation and mortality of Agriotes obscurus (Coleoptera: Elateridae) at insecticide-treated trap crops of wheat. Journal of Economic Entomology 98: 1999-2005.
Wäckers, F. L., and T. M. Bezemer. 2003. Root herbivory induces an above-ground indirect defence. Ecology Letters 6: 9-12.
Waliwitiya, R., M. B. Isman, R. S. Vernon, and A. Riseman. 2005. Insecticidal activity of selected monoterpenoids and rosemary oil to Agriotes obscurus (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Journal of Economic Entomology 98: 1560-1565.
Older publications (pre-2000):
Apablaza, J. U., A. J. Keaster, and R. H. Ward. 1977. Orientation of corn-infesting species of wireworms toward baits in the laboratory. Environmental Entomology 6: 715-718.
D. W., and F. D. Tenne. 1987.
Elateridae larvae and control obtained with terbufos
and phorate in first-year cornfields in
Crombie, A. C., and J. H. Darrah. 1947. The chemoreceptors of the wireworm (Agriotes spp.) and the relation of activity to chemical constitution. Journal of Experimental Biology 24: 95-109.
R. F. 1959. Growth and feeding behavior of larvae of
Davis, G. R. F. 1961. The biting response of larvae of the Prairie grain wireworm, Ctenicera aeripennis destructor (Brown) (Coleoptera: Elateridae), to various extracts of germinating rye seed. Canadian Journal of Zoology 39: 299-303.
F., and J. Klinger. 1978. Location of carbon dioxide receptive sensilla on larvae of the wireworms Agriotes
lineatus-obscurus and Limonius californicus. Annals of the Entomological Society of
Doane, J. F., Y. W. Lee, J. Klinger, and N. D. Westcott. 1975. The orientation response of Ctenicera destructor and other wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae) to germinating grain and to carbon dioxide. The Canadian Entomologist 107: 1233-1252.
Eidt, D. C. 1958. The anatomy and histology of the full-grown larva of Ctenicera aeripennis destructor (Brown) (Coleoptera: Elateridae). The Canadian Journal of Zoology 36: 317-361.
Eidt, D. C. 1959. Mode of feeding of the larvae of Ctenicera aeripennis destructor (Brown) (Coleoptera: Elateridae). The Canadian Entomologist 91: 97-101.
Elberson, L. R., V. Borek, J. P. McCaffrey, and M. J. Morra. 1996. Toxicity of Rapeseed meal-amended soil to wireworms, Limonius californicus (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Journal of Agricultural Entomology 13: 323-330.
Evans, A. C., and H. C. Gough. 1942. Observations on some factors influencing growth in wireworms of the genus Agriotes Esch. Annals of Applied Biology 29: 168-175.
Falconer, D. S. 1945. On the behaviour of wireworms of the genus Agriotes Esch. (Coleoptera: Elateridae) in relation to temperature. Journal of Experimental Biology 21: 17-32.
Fox, C. J. S. 1973. Some feeding responses of a wireworm, Agriotes sputator (L.) (Coleoptera: Elateridae) Phytoprotection 54: 43-45.
Frederickson, C. F., and J. H. Lilly. 1955. Measuring wireworm reactions to soil insecticides by tagging with radioactive cobalt. Journal of Economic Entomology 48: 438-442.
Furlan, L. 1998. The biology of Agriotes ustulatus
Gurjeva, E. J. 1969. Some trends in the evolution of click beetles (Coleoptera, Elateridae). Entomological Review 48: 154-159.
Jonasson, T., and K. Olsson. 1994. The influence of glycoalkaloids, chlorogenic acid and sugars on the susceptibility of potato tubers to wireworm. Potato Research 37: 205-216.
Keaster, A. J., G. M. Chippendale, and B. A. Pill. 1975. Feeding behaviour and growth of the wireworms Melanotus depressus and Limonius dibutans: effect of host plants, temperature, photoperiod, and artificial diets. Environmental Entomology 4: 591-595.
Lanchester, H. P. 1939a. The external
anatomy of the larva of the
Lanchester, H. P. 1939b. Larval
determination of six economic species of Limonius (Coleoptera:
Elateridae). Annals of the
Entomological Society of
Lange, W. H., E. C. Carlson, and L. D. Leach. 1949. Seed treatments for wireworm control with particular reference to the use of lindane. Journal of Economic Entomology 42: 942-955.
Langenbuch, R. 1932. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Biologie von Agriotes lineatus L. und Agriotes obscurus L. Zeitschrift für angewandte Entomologie 19: 278-300.
Lees, A. D. 1943. On the behaviour of wireworm of the genus Agriotes Esch. (Coleoptera: Elateridae) I. Reactions to humidity. Journal of Experimental Biology 20: 43-53.
Lehman, R. S. 1933. Field experiments with poison baits against wireworms, Limonius (Pheletes) canus (Lec.). Journal of Economic Entomology 26: 243-252.
Long, W. H., and J. H. Lilly. 1958. Wireworm behaviour in response to chemical seed treatments. Journal of Economic Entomology 51: 291-295.
Long, W. H., and J. H. Lilly. 1959. Effects of chemical seed treatments on wireworm activities. Journal of Economic Entomology 52: 509-511.
McCaffrey, J. P., L. Williams III, V. Borek, P. D. Brown, and M. J. Morra. 1995. Toxicity of ionic thiocyanate amended soil to the wireworm Limonius californicus (Coleoptera: Elateridae). Ecotoxicology 88: 793-797.
W., and M. Cohen. 1937. Investigations on wireworms and their
control. First Report of the
Entomological Research Station, Warburton,
Missonnier, J., and E. Brunel. 1979.
Control tests against wireworms (Agriotes spp.) by broadcast and
localized soil treatments: development of attacks on tubers, from treatment
to harvest. Mededelingen
van de Faculteit Landbouwwetenschappen
Olsson, K., and T. Jonasson. 1995. Genotypic differences in susceptibility to wireworm attack in potato: mechanisms and implications for plant breeding. Plant Breeding 114: 66-69.
Ponomarenko, A. V., A. A. Kazadaev, and V. A. Ponomarenko. 1998. Lysine concentrate protects tilled crops against wireworms. Zashchita I Karantin Rastenii -43.
L. N. 1987. Food habits of pasture wireworm Conoderus exsul (Coleoptera: Elateridae).
Schaerffenberg, B. 1942. Der einfluss von humusgehalt und feuchtigkeit des bodens auf die fraßtätigkeit der Elateridenlarven. Anzeiger für Schädlingskunde 18: 133-136
Schimmel, R. 1989. Monographie der rheinland-pfälzischen Schnellkäfer (Insecta: Coleoptera: Elateridae). Pollichia, Bad Dürkheim.
Stibick, J. N. L. 1979. Classification of the Elateridae (Coleoptera): Relationships and classification of the subfamilies and tribes. Pacific Insects 20: 145-186.
W. 1941. Life history of the Sugarbeet wireworm in
W., and F. B. Foley. 1955. Effect of season, temperature, and food on
the movement of the Sugarbeet wireworm.
Annals of the Entomological Society of
E. H. 1933. The biology of prairie-inhabiting
wireworms. Proceedings of the World
Grain Exhibition and
Strickland, E. H. 1939. Life cycle and food requirements of the Northern grain wireworm, Ludius aeripennis destructor (Brown). Journal of Economic Entomology 32: 322-329.
Subklew, W. 1934. Agriotes lineatus L. und A. obscurus L. (Ein beitrag zu ihrer morphologie und biologie.) Zeitschrift für Angewandte Entomologie 21: 96-122.
A. 1940. The biology and control of wireworms: a
review of the literature. Bulletin
Thorpe, W. H., A. C. Crombie, R. Hill, and J. H. Darrah. 1947. The behaviour of wireworms in response to chemical stimulation. Journal of Experimental Biology 23: 234-266.
Toba, H. H., K. S. Pike, and L. E. O’Keeffe. 1988. Carbosulfan, Fonofos, and Lindane wheat seed treatments for control of sugarbeet wireworm. Journal of Agricultural Entomology 5: 35-43.
Toth, Z. 1984. Click beetles (Elateridae) in the soils of
Turnock, W. J. 1968. Comparative food preferences of wireworms
Villani, M., and F. Gould. 1985a. Screening of crude plant extracts as feeding deterrents of the wireworm Melanotus communis. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 37: 95-100.
Villani, M., and F. Gould. 1985b. Butterfly milkweed extract as a feeding deterrent of the wireworm Melanotus communis. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 37: 69-75.
Villani, M., L. J. Meinke, and F. Gould. 1985. Laboratory bioassay of crude extracts as anti-feedants for the southern corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Environmental Entomology 14: 617-619.
Westcott, N. D., Y. W. Lee, and J. F. Doane. 1980. Determination of carbon dioxide production by Prairie grain wireworm and germinating wheat seeds using mass fragmentography. Journal of Economic Entomology 73: 561-563.
Westwood, J. O. 1838. The wireworm. The Gardener’s Magazine 14: 113-118.
Williams, L. III, M. J. Morra, P. D. Brown, and J. P. McCaffrey. 1993. Toxicity of allyl isothiocyanate-amended soil to Limonius californicus (Mann.) (Coleoptera: Elateridae) wireworms. Journal of Chemical Ecology 19: 1033-1046.
Woodworth, C. E. 1938. The reactions of wireworms to arsenicals. Journal of Agricultural Research 57: 229-238.
Zacharuk, R. Y. 1963. Comparative food preferences of soil-, sand-, and wood-inhabiting wireworms (Coleoptera, Elateridae). Bulletin of Entomological Research 54: 161-165.
A little research into the classification of the Elateridae will likely lead to both confusion and frustration. Depending on which author one consults (and whether the author focused on the adult or larval stage), the Elateridae may be subdivided into as few as 3 subfamilies (Stehr 1991) or as many as 18 (Lawrence and Newton 1995). Johnson (2003) divides the Nearctic genera into 7 subfamilies.
More content coming soon
BugGuide page for Elateridae
Paul Johnson’s “Key to the Nearctic general of Elateridae”
Paul Johnson’s “Bibliography of important references to North American Elateridae”
Paul Johnson’s “Classification of the Nearctic genera of Elateridae”
Yves Bousquet’s checklist
of click beetle species in
Christopher Majka and Paul
Johnson’s, “The Elateridae (Coleoptera)
of the Maritime