What Is It? Wednesday – Wireworm Damage

Wireworm Damage on sweetpotato.

Wireworm Damage on sweetpotato.
Justin Ballew, ©2023, Clemson Extension

While picking out the ingredients for my Thanksgiving sweetpotato casserole, I found this sweetpotato full of holes. The holes are tell-tale signs of wireworm feeding. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles (Family: Elateridae). There are at least a dozen species of wireworms in the Southern US that damage crops, such as corn, sugarcane, potatoes, sweetpotatoes, carrots, and onions. They have a long life cycle, spending two or more years in the soil, feeding/tunneling on the roots or tubers of host plants. In sweetpotatoes, like the one in this photo, wireworm tunneling would normally result in the sweetpotato being culled. However, this one likely slipped through the cracks. Read more about wireworms here.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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