Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist Christine Noronha has designed a simple and environmentally green trap using hardware store items that could be a major breakthrough in the control of wireworms, an increasingly destructive agricultural pest in Prince Edward Island and across Canada.
The research scientist at the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre unveiled the design at a wireworm information session hosted by the P.E.I. Potato Board on March 14.
The Noronha Elaterid Light Trap, or “NELT”, is made with three pieces — a small solar-powered spotlight, a plastic white cup and a piece of screening.
The light is set close to the ground to attract the source of the wireworms, the female click beetles that emerge from the ground in May and June. Each of these beetles can lay between 100 and 200 eggs that produce the larvae known as wireworms.
In a six-week test with 10 traps, more than 3,000 females were captured in the plastic cups, preventing the birth of up to 600,000 wireworms. The screening on the device prevents beneficial predator insects from being caught in the trap.
AAFC’s Office of Intellectual Property is trademarking the trap name and design and work is underway to find a manufacturer who might be interested in mass-producing the trap.
The NELT is the latest in a series of wireworm control measures being developed by a team that includes AAFC, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, P.E.I. Potato Board, P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the P.E.I. Horticultural Association, Cavendish Farms, growers and consulting agronomists.
Wireworms live in the soil and drill their way through tuber and root crops like potatoes and carrots. The P.E.I. Potato Board estimated wireworm damage to the province’s potato crop alone at $6 million in 2014.