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of Alberta

Resolution 20-17F

Chemical Control of Wireworms

October 20, 2017
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2020
Active Status:
Cardston County
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the immitigable destruction of crops by wireworms in southern Alberta has increasingly become an unmanageable issue; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada ended the use of Lindane as a pesticide in December of 2004; and

WHEREAS there currently does not exist an effective chemical application to mitigate the crop damage induced by wireworms;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the previously registered pesticide known as Lindane be again allowed for controlled treatment by certified seed cleaning plants regarding seed which they have actually cleaned for specified cereal grains and which may only be planted for the restricted use of livestock feed, with sufficient oversight and accountability of the grower to prevent any crops produced from such Lindane treated seed to be directly consumed by humans or to be sown year after year on the same field.

Member Background:

What are wireworms?:

Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Family Elateridae), are destructive insect pests that feed primarily on cereal crops, but have also been known to also feed on potatoes, canola, carrots, sugar beets and corn.

Four to eleven generations of wireworm can be found in a field, but the number of years a population can survive will often vary with the quality and availability of food. Wireworms in all growth stages are likely to infest a field in long-term grass or pasture, and populations in the soil can be more than three million per hectare.

The larval stage of wireworms can live four to eleven years in the soil and are notably resistant to adverse conditions, although most live three to five years. These overwintering larvae are called “resident larvae.”

While there are approximately thirty different species of wireworms in Canada, the Hypnoides and Selatosomus species are the most prevalent in Alberta on non-irrigated land, while the Limonius species are most prevalent on irrigated land.

How do wireworms affect crops?:

Wireworm larvae are attracted to the carbon dioxide released by germinating seeds. The resident larvae move up in the soil profile and feed on germinating seeds or young seedlings. One larva can easily consume two or more seeds. Damaged plants soon wilt and die, resulting in thin stands.

Wireworms are most destructive in early spring, when they are located near the soil surface. During summer months, larvae move deeper into the soil where it is cool and moist. Wireworms do not ingest solid plant material, but chew tissues, then regurgitate fluids containing enzymes and then imbibe the juices and plant products made soluble by the enzymes.

Generally speaking, damage is higher in silty, medium textured, well-drained soils and in soils cultivated for a period of at least twelve years.

In some areas, wireworms have destroyed more than 50% of the plant population, and further leaving the soil vulnerable to wind, water erosion and weeds.

Present Situation:

Currently, the most concerning issue regarding the damage caused by wireworms is the simple fact that there are currently no available chemical applications to control wireworms. While treatments exist that effectively slow the metabolic activity of wireworms, a treatment that kills the insects does not exist.

In 2004, Vitavax-Dual, a treatment that contained the insecticide Lindane, was removed from the market. Vitavax-Dual was a very effective treatment for the purpose of controlling wireworms, killing 60-85% of feeding wireworms.

The present situation sees producers losing tens of thousands of dollars in yield due to the destructive effects of wireworms. The ability for producers to employ Lindane in their fight against wireworms is absolutely essential. Without an effective treatment option for wireworms, producers are currently being forced into a predicament that gravely compromises their livelihoods.


Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Prairie Grain Wireworm.” 2014. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/prm2509 Date Accessed: August 30th, 2017.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Wireworms.” 2014. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex14740 Date Accessed: August 30th, 2017

Government of Canada. “Lindane.” 2006. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/chemical-substances/fact-sheets/chemicals-glance/lindane.html Date Accessed: August 31st, 2017.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Managing Wireworms in Vegetable Crops.” 2016. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-047.htm Date Accessed: August 30th, 2017.

RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Provincial Ministries:
Agriculture and Forestry,
Federal Ministries and Bodies:
Agriculture and Agri-Food
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