PEI

Researchers looking for new ways to combat wireworm

Researchers on P.E.I. and in Alberta are looking for ways to kill wireworms before the larvae destroy crops like potatoes and carrots.
Researchers on P.E.I. and in Alberta are looking for new ways to kill wireworms before the larvae destroy farmer's crops.
Wireworms can decimate a crop, proving to be an expensive problem for farmers. (CBC)

Christine Norohna from Agriculture Canada has already done some research using buckwheat and brown mustard as rotation crops. She said researchers plan to expand on that, and look at some other possibilities.

"Come up with a management strategy that we could give to the growers and say ‘you could use this and it would help you reduce your populations,’" Norohna said.

Wireworm is a pest that spends four years in the ground, feeding on vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Then it turns into a click beetle and moves onto other fields.

Click beetles enter grassy fields in April, May and June. The eggs are laid in soil and hatch in about three weeks, then the cycle continues.
Wireworms cause scarring on potatoes that make them unmarketable. (R. S. Vernon courtesy of Agriculture Canada)

Wireworm is an expensive problem. In 2009, close to $3 million was paid to Island farmers who lost crops to the pest.

An insecticide called Thimet has been used to combat wireworm.

Thimet was supposed to be de-registered by Health Canada next year, but that's been extended to 2015.

That's a relief for potato growers, who contributed $170,000 of the $500,000 going into the research project.

The rest of the money is coming from the federal government.