False wireworm beetles very numerous in SW

9286470478_c0c6e2b0d1False wireworm, Eleodes tricostata

False wireworm beetles are being spotted all over SW Kansas. These beetles are currently migrating out of grass and wheat fields and invading yards and homes looking for shelter.  A collection at a home in Finney Co. yielded more than 25 of these beetles within 15 minutes! The false wireworms are actually made up of several species in the genus Eleodes within the Tenebrionidae familey (Darkling beetles). They can be variable in size, but are usually dark colored beetles with ridges on the wings. Interestingly, these beetles cannot fly, as their elytra are fused together.  These beetles are harmless to animals and people, however some species can cause damage to wheat by nibbling out the germ in the seeds. In addition, some produce a stinky order. Control of the adults is not recommended although removing piles of decomposing straw and vegetation can help to reduce numbers. If the larvae cause significant damage to wheat the previous year, then crop rotation is the best solution. Both the adults and larvae of these beetles eat seeds of many grasses. The adult beetles have even been known to invade Harvester ant mounds to steal seeds!

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