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How to manage the top two potato pests, Wireworm and Slugs.


 
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:20 am    Post subject: How to manage the top two potato pests, Wireworm and Slugs. Reply with quote

How to manage the top two potato pests, Wireworm and Slugs.

The top two potato pests are boring individuals, and by that, I don't mean they are dull and tiresome. What I mean is that wireworms and slugs, for that is who they are, have that ability to make holes in your potatoes.

Wireworms
Wireworms are the larvae or juvenile form of the click beetle. They are wire-like grubs, with a shiny hard body, a little over 2cms in length, and are commonly coloured orange or yellowy brown. They feed on many bulbs, tubers and plant roots, but most especially potatoes where they attack the newly planted seed by tunnelling into them.

Then as the crop grows and new potato tubers are produced, wireworms will feed on them also, boring into the potato through deep narrow holes about 3mm wide. To make matters worse, the holes created by wireworms are reputed to act as open door to a follow on invasion by slugs, beginning their attack through the pre-made openings. Unfortunately, there are still no potato varieties resistant to wireworm attack, and chemical control of wireworms in potatoes has been found to be very ineffective.

Wireworm scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Superfamily: Elateroidea
Family: Elateridae
Genera: Many
Wire worm are the larva of Agriotes spp.

Management of the problem organically.

Arrow 1. You should avoid planting potatoes in areas that were recently growing grass, as wireworms are usually widespread in grassland. It is worth noting that wireworm attack is reported to be worst in the second and third year after grass, so five years without grass is preferable for a wireworm free soil.

Arrow 2. Dig, fork or rotovate over your soil once or twice before planting, this will bring wireworms to the surface for collection/crushing by yourself or the birds.

Arrow 3. You could set some potato traps in your proposed planting area about three weeks before you plant the seed potatoes. Do this by digging a series of four-inch deep holes throughout the planting area, pop in half a potato, cover with soil, and mark with a stick. A day or two before proper potato planting, you can dig up these traps, which now hopefully contain pesky wireworms ready to be disposed of.

Arrow 4. Harvest your potatoes early, as the worst wireworm damage takes place from the middle of August onwards. So, it is worth planting a potato variety that can be lifted as early as possible such as Home guards, Colleen, Sharp's express, Orla, or British queens.


Partners in slime, the wireworm on the left, and the slug on the right., photo / picture / image.

Slugs.
Slugs are regarded as a bigger pest of potatoes than wireworm, working alone or in conjunction with the wireworms and their already created tunnels. Under a moist canopy of potato foliage, these devils will firstly create round holes on the skin of the potato, before beginning to hollow out the centre flesh.

Slugs scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Orthogastropoda
Superorder: Heterobranchia
Order: Pulmonata
Suborder: Eupulmonata
Infraorder: Stylommatophora
Genera: Many

Management of the problem organically.
Arrow 1. Avoid planting potatoes into heavy soil, which is favoured by slugs.

Arrow 2. Avoid sowing potatoes into a site bordering grass, compost heaps or piles of organic waste, as all of these provide a base from which the slugs will carry out their midnight raids.

Arrow 3. Dig over your soil once or twice before planting, this will bring slug eggs to the surface to be eaten by birds.

Arrow 4. You can try planting potato varieties offering high resistance to slug attack such as Pentland Dell, or medium resistance such as King Edwards or Records.

Arrow 5. Better still plant a variety that you can harvest early to prevent prolonged attack.

Arrow 6. Avoid excessive watering of your crop, slug's love slithering on wet soil.

Arrow 7. Turn old wet sacks and rotten boards to your advantage, by leaving them encircling your potato crop. Arrive each morning with a smile, a wheelbarrow and a spade to gleefully scrape off the slugs from beneath these damp covers.

If you are looking for slug control products you may be able to source some here....Slug control




Management of the problem chemically.
If all else fails you can apply slug pellets about and between your potato rows before the crop canopy meets across the drills. If you have a serious slug problem, applying pellets before the pests begin egg laying in early September can carry out a pre-emptive strike.

Associated content.....
Grow your own potatoes.

Increasing your stock of seed pototoes, How-to Video.

How to chit seed potatoes for earlier and heavier cropping.

How to grow new potatoes for Christmas.

How to manage the top two potato pests, Wireworm and Slugs.

Common potato Scab, Management of the problem.

Potato blight, how to treat Phytophthora infestans.

Planning a Vegetable Garden? How to Make a Vegetable Garden.

Any queries or comments, please post below.

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:02 am; edited 2 times in total
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
1. Avoid planting potatoes into heavy soil, which is favoured by slugs.


I can't avoid the heavy soil I'm afraid, but I'm wondering, If I add fine sand and fork it in I suspect that it wouldn't be as attractive to slugs?

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scotty
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is what I have done this year as an experiment, so I'll let you know how it works!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

crosseyedsheep wrote:


I can't avoid the heavy soil I'm afraid, but I'm wondering, If I add fine sand and fork it in I suspect that it wouldn't be as attractive to slugs?


Sharp sand or grit, not smooth plastering sand, will benefit your heavy clay in many ways.
How effective the amount the average gardener can add to control slugs is debatable though.
I think Scotty will have the final say on that at harvest time. Wink

How much sand did you add Scotty?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I seem to have an awful lot of slugs in my garden, they're everywhere, I'm seriously thinking of getting a few indian runner ducks. I'm guessing that the prows might outweigh the cons. I've heard they eat lettuice, well if it grows due to the lack of slugs they'd be more than welcome to it, I had a nightmare trying to grow it last year.
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you leave rhubarb leaves lying around, are they poisonous to slugs?
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
if you leave rhubarb leaves lying around, are they poisonous to slugs?


I'm not convinced, I planted 6 rhubarb plants last year, 3 eventually grew, the other 3 didn't due to slugs, I had to put beer traps around them to keep the slugs away.

A lot of "remedies" and deterrants recommended for slugs and snails don't work, some, such as sharp sand and lime probably work well when dry but as soon as they get wet they're useless, and needless to say it's when the weather is wet you have the biggest problem with slugs and snails. I've seen slugs crawl over sharp sand.

You could probably leave rhubarb leaves lying around over night and if you collect them the next morning I think you'll find loads of slugs that you can dispose of, maybe that was the suggested method?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a homemade wireworm trap, probably more work than its worth, but it would be a good winter project before planting
More details as always on the blog, link in sig.


Its an old tin can and a 6" nail, adapted and baited using potato and other root veg, CO2 emitter - baking soda - (apparently it attracts them)

Its an experiment, so I will update

Wish I had done it before as advised here, but I was not really up to speed on the click beetle, and the fact its a brand new garden, its been scrub / grassland for the last 30ish years

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