Pests and diseases: Wireworm

Look for

Plants may wilt due to larval root feeding. Underground vegetables and tubers will have small burrowed tunnels. Leaves may have holes at the edges where adults feed.

Plants affected

  • Roots of many garden ornamental and vegetable plants are attacked.

About Wireworm

  • Wireworms are the larvae of Agriotes and Athous, species of click beetles.
  • Eggs are laid below the soil between May and June.
  • Newly hatched larvae are very small and white.
  • Larvae grow to 3cm in length, and develop a tough, golden brown skin. They have three pairs of short, stout legs.
  • Larvae feed on roots of plants, and burrow into tubers. Potatoes are particularly susceptible.
  • The larval period can last up to four years.
  • Larvae move up and down in the soil depending on moisture levels.
  • Pupation occurs about 30cm below the soil surface in a small chamber.
  • After three to four weeks adults hatch and remain in the soil to overwinter.
  • Adults emerge in summer to mate.
  • When overturned, click beetles propel themselves into the air by arching their back and snapping their head back. This action makes a clicking sound.



Products containing the following chemical ingredients are all effective on Wireworm

  • There are no effective chemicals available for wireworm control.

Note: It is important to read manufacturer’s instructions for use and the associated safety data information before applying chemical treatments.


  • Regularly cultivate soil in spring and summer.
  • Early lifting of susceptible crops will minimise damage.
  • Encourage insectivorous birds by hanging feeders and bird boxes.


  • Inspect compost heaps for wireworms and remove any you find.
  • Do not plant susceptible crops in known infested areas.
  • Thoroughly turn soil in autumn to expose wireworms to predators.

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