Biological and Cultural Tactics for the Control of Wireworms in Root Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $116,189.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Vermont
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Victor Izzo
University of Vermont

Information Products

2021-2022 Research Update (Article/Newsletter/Blog)


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, cover crops
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:


    Problem and Justification

    For diversified vegetable farmers, wireworms represent a significant pest as they exhibit an extensive host range including a variety of popular root vegetables (e.g. radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.) and grass-based cash crops (e.g. corn.) Feeding injury from wireworms can quickly reduce the marketability of root crops as even limited damage can result in higher disease incidence and reduced consumer value. Because root crops represent a large proportion of the harvested storage crops in the northeast, wireworms are particularly concerning for growers. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) sweet potato production in the USA has increased 6.1% per year since 2000 (23).

    Solution and Approach

    This project will investigate strategies to best prepare root crop growers for wireworm infestations and reduce the likelihood of significant wireworm pressure in root crop plantings. The primary educational program will focus on assessing grower level of knowledge and familiarity with wireworms in root crops and the currently available tactics for their management in temperate agroecosystems. Learning outcomes for this curriculum will be divided into two general categories: knowledge building and skill development. To best support growers our project looks to develop a robust wireworm educational program in conjunction with a research plan to explore novel tactics to better manage wireworm pressure in sweet potato crops. Specifically, our project will perform three sets of field trials to test different pest management tactics for wireworm management. These avenues of research will include: the use of entomopathogenic fungi for biological control, high glucosinolate mustard (HGM) biofumigation, and the development of a cover crop ranking system to identify the most problematic cover crops for wireworm recruitment.

    Milestones and Performance Target

    Northeastern diversified vegetable farmers are the primary beneficiaries of this project. Particularly, we will focus our efforts on farmers with a significant investment in root crops, and utilizing grass cover crops in their rotation schedule. By the end of this project, Seventy-five northeastern vegetable growers will acquire advanced knowledge of wireworm ecology and the use of novel management tactics for the control of wireworms. Application of this knowledge will occur on 50 acres of planted root crops protecting $225,000/year worth of root crops. Of these seventy-five growers, ten will report their estimated average recovery of losses. 

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Seventy-five Northeastern growers will each apply at least one novel management tactic for the control of wireworms on a total of 75 acres of root crops. 50 of these farmers producing $225,000 worth of root crops annually will report a reduction in crop losses to wireworms compared to previous years.


    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.