Wireworm research intensifies on both chemical and biological control

Biological control of wireworms using Metarhizium

With some chemical controls under federal government re-evaluation, potato growers are keen to learn more about their options for controlling wireworm. This soil-borne pest has been causing increasing damage to root crops such as potatoes, rutabaga and carrots across Canada. The cosmetic damage translates into less marketable crop. 
    

At a Wireworm Research and Extension Seminar this past spring, Prince Edward Island growers heard about the latest research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Christine Noronha, Bob Vernon and Todd Kabaluk.
    

Thimet 20G (phorate) has a new formulation and new method of application at planting. Another product called Capture (bifenthrin) is effective when applied as a liquid in-furrow spray at planting. The researchers observe that Thimet 20G kills wireworms while Capture repels wireworms from the tuber area. Company research by FMC conducted at Cavendish Farms and Technology Crops International showed that Capture plus Titan (clothiandin) improved control with the added benefit of controlling Colorado potato beetle.
    

A SmartBox system is required to apply Thimet 20G along with pinch valves to prevent release of granules at the end of rows. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency has a smartphone app that allows for quick access to all approved pesticide labels.  
    

The wireworm research team has hired a new researcher:  Suqi Liu. Her two-year assignment started last January with the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.  She is stationed at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Entomology Research Lab. The goal is to understand more about the 
biology, ecology and population dynamics of the wireworm species known as Agriotes sputator. 
    

Todd Kabaluk, an AAFC researcher at Agassiz, British Columbia, is working on biological control of wireworm. A beneficial fungus called Metarhizum is effective in attaching to wireworms and killing them. When combined with a pheromone attractant on granules spread in a field, the kill rate is as high as 95 per cent.  Cost-effective methods and weather-proofing of this ‘attract and kill’ system are being developed. He has also developed an oil-emulsion spray of Metarhizium which will be tested this season. 

Source:  Prince Edward Island Potato News 

Publish date: 
Thursday, May 26, 2016

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