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Further studies on wireworm management in Canada: Damage protection versus wireworm mortality in potatoes

Vernon, R.S., Herk, W.G.V., Clodius, M., Harding, C. (2013). Further studies on wireworm management in Canada: Damage protection versus wireworm mortality in potatoes, 106(2), 786-799.


The efficacy of various insecticides and application methods in protecting potatoes from wireworm (Agriotes obscurus L.) damage as well as reducing wireworm populations was studied over 5 yr in Agassiz, British Columbia. Protection from wireworm damage was measured by the number of blemishes to daughter tubers, and effects on wireworm populations were measured by sampling soil around seed potatoes and/or by bait traps the following spring. Organophosphates registered for wireworm control in the United States and/or Canada (phorate and chlorpyrifos), significantly reduced blemishes to tubers by, respectively, 92.2 and 90.2%, and populations of large (≥9 mm long = 'resident') wireworms by 83.4 and 71.0% relative to controls. Similar reductions in smaller (<9 mm long = 'neonate') wireworms were also observed. Neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) tested as seed piece treatments at ≈12.5 g active ingredient/100 kg potato seed reduced blemishes by, respectively, 19.1, 71.6, and 90.6%, but resident wireworms were only reduced by, respectively, 22.0, 29.1, and 51.8%. Significant mortality of neonates was not observed with any neonicotinoid treatment. With the possible exception of thiamethoxam, where significant reduction in resident wireworms occurred, it is likely that the blemish protection provided without significant wireworm mortality with imidacloprid and clothianidin treatments was because of long-term wireworm intoxication followed by population recovery. The phenyl pyrazole, fipronil, applied as an in-furrow spray reduced blemishes by 94.3%, and resident wireworm populations could not be detected in plots the following spring. Neonates were reduced by 93.3%, indicating excellent residual control had occurred with fipronil. These studies indicate that tuber protection by fipronil and currently registered organophosphates is likely because of significant early season mortality of wireworms, whereas neonicotinoids generally provide control through long-term morbidity without high levels of mortality occurring. © 2013 Entomological Society of America.

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