Advancing monitoring and decision-making tools for wireworm in Alberta

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $113,273
Commodity: Multiple Crops
Organization: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Lethbridge
Investigator: Haley Catton

Wireworms, the soil-dwelling larval stages of Elaterid beetles, are crop pests of serious concern on the Prairies, particularly in cereals.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Wireworm is a serious pest for many growers, particularly in the Prairies, where there are 3-4 dominant species. The damaging larvae live for several years in the soil, feed on multiple crops, and have patchy distributions. For these reasons, wireworm is difficult to monitor, and no economic thresholds are currently available.

As new chemical seed treatments enter the marketplace, there is an obvious need for a decision-making framework for wireworm management to help producers with questions like if and when to invest in chemical seed treatments. Since wireworm is the primary reason that cereal seeds are treated with insecticides on the Prairies, the information gathered from this research can potentially reduce unnecessary pesticide use.

This research will explore the possibility of using overhead imagery to detect wireworm damage patches, how damaged patches differ from undamaged areas, and methods and intensity of sampling needed to detect problems. This work can lay the foundation for developing an economic threshold for cereal damage for wireworm in Alberta.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This research aims to provide Prairie producers with improved frameworks for monitoring and decision-making to detect if wireworms are a problem on their farm and whether or not to invest in management options. The goal is to develop a management solution that is cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Findings from this research will be freely available to all. Producers will be involved in the project through regular extension activities and by volunteering their fields for sampling. Research will be shared through producer group meets, scientific conferences, and interviews with agricultural media.