False wireworms are the larvae of several species of darkling beetles (Family Tenebrionidae). Adults are large (about 1 inch in length), dark-colored, long-legged beetles that often can be seen running over the ground and hiding under litter in continuous wheat fields. Adults vary in appearance and size. Most species have antennae with eleven segments. Adults have 5 tarsal segments on the first 2 pairs of legs and only 4 tarsal segments on the third pair. The wing covers may be ridged, smooth or granulate, and are fused together so the adults can't fly. When disturbed, the adults have a peculiar habit of placing their head near the ground and elevating their abdomen in the air as if they were trying to stand on their head. The larvae closely resemble wireworms in appearance, slender with noticeable segments, but they have longer legs and antennae than true wireworm larvae. The larvae range from yellowish-brown to nearly black, depending on the species.
Damage: Characteristic damage is seed with the ends nibbled on and the germ removed. Losses can be severe when persistent dry weather in the fall delays sprouting. Additional damage may occur the following spring. False wireworms pupate in earthen cells in the soil. The adults can live up to three years.
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