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Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506-4004

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Sorghum Insects

Wireworms (Elateridae).


Wireworms are larvae of click beetles. They resemble the larvae of false wireworms, but have shorter legs and antennae. Both are yellowish-brown, shiny and slender, with hard bodies and legs on the first three body segments behind the head. Wireworms feed primarily on planted seed, but they also injure small plants by burrowing into underground portions of the stem. Historically, problems occur when sorghum follows sod, but now problems are common in fields under continuous cultivation. Some species require several years to mature, so the problem is perennial in certain fields, especially those with loose or sandy soils that facilitate larval movement.

Watch for wireworms exposed during tillage before planting. To evaluate wireworm populations before planting, sample at least five locations in the field by sifting one square foot of soil dug to a depth of 4 inches through a ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth. Two or more wireworms per square foot can be expected to cause moderate damage. There are no effective rescue treatments after planting, so planting treated seed is recommended in areas with known problems. Effectiveness can vary depending on the wireworm species.

Please refer to the most recent version of the Sorghum Insect Management Guide for specific control recommendations.

Page last updated on 10/31/2013 by J.P. Michaud.