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Extension > Agriculture > Crops > Soybean Production > Insects & mites > Wireworm in Minnesota soybean

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Wireworm in Minnesota soybean

Robert Koch, Extension entomologist and Suzanne Wold–Burkness, Research assistant


Photo: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University,


Photo: Dave Cappaert, Michigan State University,

Figure 1. Wireworm (top) and adult click beetle (below).


Wireworm (Family: Elateridae, multiple species)


Adults (Figure 1)

Adults are known as "click beetles":


Eggs are small and pearly white and are laid in the soil.

Larvae (Figure 1):


Pupae are white to tan colored, 1/2 to 1–1/2 inches long and seldom seen.

Natural history

Wireworms have an extended life cycle, requiring 1–6 years to complete a single generation. Because of this variation, all stages of wireworm can be found at any given time.

Depending on species, both larvae and adults can overwinter. After adults become active in mid– to late spring, they mate and lay eggs in the soil

Eggs hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. As larvae develop, they move up and down within the soil profile for multiple years. Eventually, they pupate in the soil and emerge the following spring.


Wireworms feed directly on germinating soybean seeds and also on soybean roots, which can cause stand loss or stunt plants.

Wireworm injury occurs mainly during the early stages of plant growth.

Scouting and management

There are no rescue treatments for wireworm. Once wireworm injury is noticed, it is too late to use any control methods. All management decisions need to be made prior to planting.

Risk for infestation by wireworm is greater under the following conditions:

Scouting – Bait sampling

bait station

Photo: John Obermeyer, Purdue University

Figure 2. Wireworm bait station supplies.

Sampling for wireworms is done prior to planting through the use of bait stations (Figure 2). Bait stations are established in the following way:

Chemical control

Rescue treatments are not available for this pest. Preventative use of seed–applied or in–furrow insecticides may be considered for fields with high risk for economic infestation by wireworm (see above risk factors). Follow instructions on the insecticide label.

Estimation of stand loss and replant decisions

Fields should be inspected for stand loss during seedling growth stages. Soybean is a resilient crop, able to tolerate relatively high levels of stand loss. However, when significant stand loss occurs because of wireworm or other causes, replanting may be required, but this option should be considered carefully. Information is available on how to estimate plant stand and guide replant decisions in soybean. See the University of Minnesota Extension Soybean grower's field guide for evaluating crop damage and replant options.

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