A bioassay for observing wireworm behavior in soil is described. The bioassay permits analysis of orientation, feeding, repellency, and postcontact toxicity behaviors of wireworms in response to insecticide-treated wheat seeds. Wireworm positions were recorded every 5 min for 3 h, and the time required to orient to and contact seeds, and the duration of individual feeding events, was calculated. Both avoidance (before contact with seeds) and repellency (after contact) were quantified. A high proportion of Agriotes obscurus (0.95), Limonius canus (1.00), Ctenicera pruinina (0.80), Melanotus communis/dietrichi (0.80), and Hypolithus sp. (0.70) larvae contacted untreated wheat seeds and began feeding within 120 min when seeds were preincubated for 60 min in soil with 20% moisture. A smaller proportion of A. obscurus contacted seeds if seeds were not incubated in the bioassay before wireworm introduction (0.80) or in soil with 10% moisture (0.65). L. canus larvae required a significantly shorter time (25.3 min) to contact seeds if seeds were incubated for 60 min than if seeds were not incubated before wireworm introduction (43.1 min). Wireworms exposed to untreated seeds and seeds treated with the fungicide Dividend XLRTA fed normally (i.e., sustained feeding for at least 60 min), but a significant proportion of wireworms exposed to seeds treated with Tefluthrin 20 CS (containing the synthetic pyrethroid tefluthrin) fed for 15 min or less and were subsequently repelled. Wireworms exposed to Vitavax Dual (containing the organochlorine lindane) were not repelled after feeding and showed symptoms of illness for up to 28 d before making a full recovery (89%) or dying (11%).
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