The Q&A Archives: Worms in Root Crops

Question: When I harvest my carrots, radishes and turnips, I find that many of them have worm holes. What can I do?

Answer: Sometimes wireworms cause problems in root crops. Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles and their numbers are higher in areas that were recently covered with sod. When the eggs hatch the larvae feed on the underground parts of plants. Another pest, the carrot rust fly, lays its eggs on or near the crown of root crops. The larvae then bore into the roots of carrots, radishes and turnips to feed. Both pests can cause real damage.

Try planting your root crops in a different garden spot next year so they won't be victimized by pests that overwinter in the soil. Sometimes you can trap wireworms by placing pieces of cut potato in the soil near your crops. The potato will attract the worms and you can dig and dispose of the trap, placing fresh potato pieces in the soil every few weeks. You can foil the carrot rust fly adults by using a fabric row cover over your crops to keep the flies from laying their eggs on the crowns of the plants.

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