Wireworms seem to be having a bit of a resurgence across the prairies the past couple of years.
Some producers in southeastern Saskatchewan reported this season they had lost nearly their entire fields of crops to the insect that eventually turns into a click beetle.
Sherri Roberts, a crops extension specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, said a new publication by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada just released called a Guide to Pest Wireworms in Canadian Prairie Field Crop Production shows how wide-reaching the issue has become.
"There was a huge study that's been done by some researchers out of Alberta," she said. "It has a map in there of all the different areas that they had wireworm traps out in. It's basically becoming a big issue in all of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba."
Producers used to be able to use a chemical spray for the pest that has 11 different species but the federal government deregistered it back in 2004 and according to Roberts the population of wireworms has blossomed since then.
"Fortunately we have had some seed treatments out there that will, they won't kill them but they will sort of make them drunk so they won't feed on the plants and that's kind of kept populations down," she said. "This past year we had a new chemical come on the market called Teraxxa and it works really well on controlling them now. Farmers do have an opportunity to be able to get their populations under control if they realize what they have."
One way for producers to figure out if they have wireworms is to dig down about a foot and place a peeled potato there and then return in five days to see if it attracts the pests.
"And they don't just do just affect cereals, they'll go after canola, lentils and peas," she said. "The only crops they don't seem to bother are mustard or buckwheat."