How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines



Scientific Names: Limonius spp. and others

(Reviewed 12/09, updated 12/09, pesticides updated 5/16)

In this Guideline:

Description of the Pests

Wireworms are shiny, slender, cylindrical, hard-bodied, yellow to brown larvae that can be found at all times of the year and in almost any kind of soil. The larval (or wireworm) stage of this insect may last several years. When fully developed, they vary in length from about 0.5 inch to 1.25 inches (12–31 mm), depending on the species. Adults of these larvae are known as click beetles. They can snap and flip their bodies into the air when turned upside down. These tan to black beetles vary from 0.25 inch (6 mm) to more than 1.0 inch (24 mm) in length, but the most common pest species are about 0.5 inch (12 mm) long.


Wireworm larvae injure crops by partially or completely devouring seeds in the soil, thus reducing plant stands. On plants, they can cut off small, underground stems and roots or bore into larger ones.


Preventive treatment may be warranted for crops planted in land that was previously pasture or planted to alfalfa, vineyards and possibly grains. Otherwise, good field sanitation and measures to ensure rapid seed germination aregenerally adequate for control of this pest.

Cultural Control

Destroy plant residue from previous crops. Fallow fields for several weeks to allow organic matter to decompose. Seeds planted at depths greater than 1.5 inch (3.7 mm) take longer to germinate and are at greater risk for infestation. Do not plant into cold, moist soil.

Organically Acceptable Methods

Cultural controls are acceptable to use in an organically certified crop.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

If wireworms have been a serious problem in the past, a preventative treatment may be necessary. Preplant or seed treatments are far superior to any postemergence practice.

Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name)   (hours) (days)

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read the label of the product being used.
  (Admire Pro) 7–10.5 fl oz 12 21
  COMMENTS: Apply at planting or transplanting and incorporate into root zone.
  (Diazinon 50) 6–8 lb 72 3
  (Diazinon AG500) 3–4 qt 72 3
  COMMENTS: Labeled for use on melons and watermelons only. Broadcast just before planting and immediately work into the soil 4 to 8 inches.
  (Vapam) Label rates See label NA
  COMMENTS: Apply as a band treatment before planting. Fumigants such as metam sodium are a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but are minimally reactive with other air contaminants that form ozone.
Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
NA Not applicable.



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Cucurbits
UC ANR Publication 3445

Insects and Mites

E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
J. J. Stapleton, UC IPM Program, Kearney Agricultultural Center, Parlier
C. S. Stoddard, UC Cooperative Extension, Merced & Madera counties

Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
R. L. Coviello, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County
C. B. Fouche, UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County
L. D. Godfrey, Entomology, UC Davis
J. B. LeBoeuf, AgiData Sensing, Inc., Fresno
M. Murray, UC Cooperative Extension, Colusa and Glenn counties
C. G. Summers, Entomology, UC Davis and Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier

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