• Laboratoire des sols
  • Université de lorraine

Elaterides (wireworms)


Classification (systematic position)
Source : INPN


Animal Kingdom
Embranchement (Phylum) : Arthropoda
Subphylum: Pancrustacea
Class: Hexapod
Subclass: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Elateridae




Morphological characteristics
Insect beetles with a very elongated body compared to other beetles, body in 3 parts (head, thorax, abdomen), 3 pairs of legs, 1 pair of antennae, 2 pairs of wings: 1 pair of elytra which cover everything abdomen and 1 pair of flight-enabled wings, chewing mouthparts.

Elaterid or wireworm larvae do not resemble the adult form and are called "wireworms" because they are filiform (very elongated), they have 3 tiny pairs of legs and a segmented body that is often orange-yellow in color . Short growths are often present at the end of the larva's abdomen.


Life cycle
Elaterid females lay the eggs in the ground. Sensitive to temperature variations, after hatching from the eggs, the larvae generally remain around the root system of plants; they live 4 years in the ground, then turn into nymphs and then become adults who have a short life.


Adult wireworms are floricoles, usually feeding on the pollen or nectar of flowers. The larvae are rhizophagous since they feed on the roots of plants.


Natural predators or regulators
Wireworms are preyed upon by moles, birds, ground beetles and rodents.


Adult Elaterids are found in all ecosystems, and it is not uncommon to find wireworm larvae in the soils of grasslands, vegetable gardens and fields.


Interests in the garden
Adult elaterids participate in pollination, and the larvae may be considered troublesome if the predators that naturally regulate wireworm populations are not present.


Did you know ?
Adult elaterids can jump when placed on their back in order to turn around and intimidate their predator. This "jump" is made thanks to a contraction between the thorax and the abdomen. Because of this characteristic, click beetles are called "click-beetles" in English because the noise generated by this "jump" clicks.

Last change : 03/04/22
elateridae photo 700 520
Figure 1