The composition of wireworm species in Montana wheat and barley fields and its effect on developing IPM programs
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Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles, are the most important soil-insect pest of small grain fields in Montana. Worldwide, there are about 9,300 species of elaterids in 400 different genera, and in North America 885 species in 60 genera have been identified. In Montana, 166 species were identified, among them, 21 species have been identified as possible pests in small grain fields and some are serious pests of a wide variety of crops. My research focused on three main objectives related to wireworm IPM: first, the identification of the species causing damage in the field and their geographic and seasonal distribution in Montana; second, establishing the potential of different baited traps to monitor pest wireworm populations; and third, evaluating chemical and cultural management alternatives. To complete the first objective a statewide wireworm survey was conducted for three years as well as an intense sampling of four cereal fields season for three consecutive years. To complete the second objective, the effectiveness of four baited traps were assessed: traditional pitfall compared to pot, stocking and canister type traps, in four cereal fields for three years. To complete the last objective, laboratory, greenhouse and field studies were conducted to evaluate new insecticides, crop injury, tillage practices and seeding density. 5,097 wireworms were collected from the four sites during 2010 - 2012 including four common species, Aeolus mellillus, Hypnoidus bicolor, Limonius californicus and L. infuscatus, and three minor species, Agriotes spp., Dalopius spp. and Selatosomus aeripennis. Peak wireworm activity at the soil surface was found to coincide with cereal crop germination and establishment. While all trap types can be used to detect wireworm activity and estimate population levels, pitfall and stocking were more efficient than pot and canister traps. Thiamethoxam does not kill wireworms but its ability to suppress wireworm populations in the field can be improved by the addition of fipronil. Increasing seeding density is one of the most common cultural recommendations for managing wireworms, but my studies did not support its benefit to higher crop yields. Significantly, species-specific crop injury and seasonal movement in the soil support the need for species-specific IPM research.