23 November 2001

Beetle traps can ward off attacks from wireworms

By Edward Long

PHEREMONE beetle traps to warn potato growers of wireworm attacks could soon be available, thanks to British Potato Council-funded testing of the idea.

Damage from wireworms, the larvae of click beetles, is usually worst in fields after grass. But it is becoming increasingly troublesome in arable rotations, ADASs Bill Parker told last weeks Syngenta Potato Conference in Peterborough.

The pests tunnel into tubers to wreck both yield and quality. Even low populations can cause economic losses of 5-25%, despite insecticides being applied.

Soil sampling and baiting to detect high-risk fields are time consuming and unreliable. A nil return does not equate to low risk, said Dr Parker.

Now commercial traps to detect even low populations should be available within a year or so. The pheromone used, produced in Hungary, attracts only male click beetles and is unattractive to other species.

"Results of the evaluation work suggest traps are 10 times more sensitive than soil sampling, so users should be able to detect low populations that could easily be missed by existing methods."

Syngentas Ben Miles believes it is vital that growers adopt integrated crop management including traps, to assess risk. He hopes to have approval for use of Nemathorin (fosthiazate) against wireworms in 2002. &#42