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Wireworms a growing concern for the Canadian potato industry

Wireworm populations appear to be on the rise in Western Canada. Wireworm, which is the larval stage of the adult click beetle, affects many crops, including cereals and pulses, but they are particularly damaging to potatoes. Holes created by wireworms can render tubers unmarketable and serve as points of entry for potato pathogens. Few chemical controls are available across Canada. Following the deregistration of lindane several years ago, many producers turned to neonicotinoid seed treatments. But neonics don’t kill wireworms, they just keep them from feeding on plants for a time, says John Gavlovski, Manitoba’s provincial entomologist, meaning they can return and feed on tubers later in the growing season. And as neonicotinoids are under review with Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, this option might soon be taken off the table. With the lack of available chemical controls, some Canadian potato growers are turning to innovative mechanical solutions. Report by Julienne Isaacs