Evaluating the effectiveness of mustard species and their concentrated extracts in reducing losses to wireworms in the Pacific Northwest, USA.

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $24,998.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G152-21-W7902
Grant Recipient: University of Idaho
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Arash Rashed
University of Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Reed Findlay
University of Idaho

Information Products


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, mustard, wheat


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation

    Proposal abstract:

    In recent years, cereal production in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain regions of the USA has been threatened by the re-emergence of a devastating pest, known as wireworm. Neonicotinoid seed treatments, the only group of insecticides registered in cereals against wireworms, have failed to deliver acceptable levels of protection. There is currently an urgent need to develop alternative control methods to be used as components of an integrated pest management protocol against this pest. Cruciferous plants are known for their biocidial effects on a wide range of pest conditions (e.g. weeds, insects, pathogens) due to their glucosinolate contents. Here, in a series of greenhouse assays and field trials, we will examine the effects of different mustard species as rotation/cover crops (soil incorporated), as well as their defatted seed meals in reducing wireworm populations, thus damage. For the first time, we will also test the efficacy of a newly developed concentrated seed meal extract, of either mustard species, against wireworms. Further, we will examine any potential impact of our treatments on the beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes, which are locally present as natural enemies of wireworms. Upon successful results, we expect an increase in planting mustard, or application of its products, by growers as a component of an integrated pest management approach, along with current seed treatments. This work will be delivered by a PhD student, in close collaborations with wheat and barley growers and extension educators. Research finding will be disseminated through a wide range of research and extension outlets.


    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall goal of this project is to explore an alternative integrated management tactic to control wireworms in cereal crops. We will achieve this goal through two complementary objectives. Our third objective is designed for effective delivery of findings to our regional stakeholders.

    Objective 1: Evaluate the effect of mustard species including yellow (Sinapis alba) and brown (Brassica. juncea) mustard against wireworm, our sub-objectives are set as below:

    1a. Investigate the effectiveness of cover crop (soil incorporated as green manure), defatted seed meals and concentrated extracts of yellow (S. alba) and brown (B. Juncea) mustard species to reduce wireworm damage in wheat under greenhouse conditions.

    1b. Evaluate and compare the effectiveness of brown (B.juncea) and yellow (S.alba) mustard rotations, and mustard species products) in reducing wireworm damage to wheat.

    Objective 2: Compare entomopathogenic nematode presence and infectivity following yellow and brown mustard treatments, and in relation to non-treated controls.

    Objective 3: Disseminate findings to stakeholders and growers and promote adoption of successful IPM tactics against wireworm.

    This project not only examines the effectiveness of alternative approaches to reduce wireworm pressure but also aims to increase grower’s knowledge of an alternative to paraphyletic application of synthetic insecticides to promote sustainability of our management practices.

    Studies on the efficacy of mustard and mustard products have yielded conflicting results. The species of mustard and targeted wireworm, environmental conditions and timing of application have been proposed as potential variables that can explain the inconsistency in outcomes. In this proposal, focusing on a single wireworm species,  sugar beet wireworm, we will evaluate the efficacy of both yellow and brown mustard species, their seed meals, as well as the newly developed concentrated extracts for each of the two species (containing higher concentrations of glucosinolates), while taking into consideration, any potential side-effects on beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.