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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

Life History

Life History.

The wireworm is the grub or larva of the click beetle, Elater lineatus, of the family Elaterid œ, sub-tribe Serricornes, of the order Coleoptera, according to the rational classification of West-wood. It is called "click" because the beetle, if placed on its back, has the power of giving a mighty spring in the air ten or twelve times its own length, at the same time emitting a snapping or clicking sound. The grub, or wireworm, is sometimes confounded by agriculturists with the grub of the Daddy Longlegs, Tipula oleacea, which is quite a different insect.

The perfect winged insect, which may be noticed frequently in meadows and by hedge sides in August, lays very small eggs on the stems or leaves of grasses and other plants, and the lower parts of the hop bines. From these eggs a grub, or larva, is produced, which begins at once to feed upon the plants, generally attacking the most vital point just above the root, and in hop plants at the base of the shoot springing from the fibrous part of the hop set. The grub is very tiny at first, a little white worm, as Curtis describes it, and hardly perceptible; it grows very page 16 quickly to the full size of the wireworm stage, in which it remains five years. Some entomologists say that it keeps in this state longer than five years: Taschenberg says for many years. Miss Ormerod thinks the term depends probably on the supply of food; but it has been proved to live for years in larval condition. It is yellow, with a smooth horny skin enabling it to move in the earth, and to go down very deeply into it with ease and rapidity. It changes to the chrysalis state in the earth, as Taschenberg says, without a cocoon, and makes its way to the light, emerging in perfect winged form, to pair, and to deposit eggs upon the hop plants, or herbs, or plants, or weeds near.