During an insecticide toxicity study involving field-collected dusky wireworm, Agriotes obscurus (L.) (Coleoptera: Elateridae), wireworms exposed dermally to six classes of insecticides exhibited characteristic transitional symptoms of toxicity. These symptoms, collectively termed “morbidity,” were categorized as “writhing,” “leg and mouthpart movements,” or “mouthpart-only body movements.” These symptoms could persist for long periods, depending on insecticide and dose, with morbid wireworms ultimately recovering or dying. Additional LC50 and LD50 toxicity studies showed that these stages of morbidity also occurred in four other wireworm species, notably Agriotes sputator (L.), Limonius canus LeConte, Ctenicera pruinina (Horn), and Ctenicera destructor (Brown). In addition, all species exposed dermally to clothianidin moved in significant numbers to the surface of soil in posttreatment holding cups. This movement was not observed when these species were exposed to chlorpyrifos or the control solvent. These findings suggest that toxicity trials involving wireworms should include observations on morbidity, and the duration of trials should continue until symptoms of morbidity cease. The long-term morbidity and potential recovery or death of wireworms exposed to certain insecticides has implications for how laboratory and field studies can be better designed and interpreted in the future.
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Vol. 101 • No. 2