Wireworm Bait Stations: New Techniques for Consideration

April 16, 1999
Dr. Armon Keaster, a retired entomologist with the University of Missouri, has long been respected as one of the leading authorities on wireworm management. Please consider the following techniques, suggested by Dr. Keaster, as you establish bait stations in cornfields to detect potential wireworm infestations. Two to three weeks before the anticipated planting date, consider establishing 5 to 10 bait stations per field. Dr. Keaster suggests that more bait stations are required if the field is larger than 30 acres. However, because the great majority of fields far exceed 30 acres, this recommendation will not be followed by most producers. The bottom line is that no one will take the time to establish 5 to 10 bait stations for every 30 acres. Because of this reality, it may be worthwhile to spend most of your baiting efforts in areas of fields that have had grass infestations. Dr. Keaster suggests that bait stations need only be 2 to 3 inches deep (we have typically recommended deeper holes, 6 inches) and 6 to 9 inches wide at the soil surface. Approximately 1/2 cup of untreated corn and wheat (1:1) should be placed at the bottom on the shallow hole. A mounded dome of soil should be created above the buried seed mixture and covered with an 18-inch-square sheet of black plastic. Finally, a 1-yard-square sheet of clear plastic should be placed directly over the black plastic. A few days before planting, dig up the bait stations. If an average of one wireworm per bait station is detected, a planting-time soil insecticide should be considered. Consider these bait station tips as you attempt to make decisions regarding the likelihood of wireworm infestations this spring.--Mike Gray
Author: Mike Gray