Ralph Yeo, a resident of Prince Edward Island, has begun mass-manufacturing a wire trap to fight P.E.I.’s wireworm problem after reading about the trap’s invention about a year ago.
Christine Noronha, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist, had created the trap and trademarked it in early 2016, but needed someone to manufacture it. Yeo, who until now ran a landscaping business, says he and a few others decided to follow up with Noronha.
“We were pretty intrigued by it and certainly saw the need,” says Yeo.
Wireworms are beetle larvae that dig holes in potatoes as they grow, making the produce unfit for sale. The P.E.I. Potato Board says the worms are a problem across the country, although they have proven most problematic in P.E.I., Alberta and British Columbia
The trap to stop them is called the Noronha Elaterid Light Trap, or NELT. It consists of a small solar-powered spotlight, a white plastic cup and a piece of screening to keep out bigger insects that could clog up the trap.
Yeo says the trap doesn’t actually capture the worm but its adult phase, the click beetle. The worms remain underground during the winter until the earth warms up in the spring. They emerge and turn into the adult beetle, which start to mate and produce eggs within a few weeks. The trap is meant to catch the beetles during that time, Yeo says. It attracts the beetles with its light, and once the insect climbs inside the wire mesh, it can’t escape.
“So the idea is to have them all intercepted and in that cup before the egg laying commences,” says Yeo.
Yeo hopes to sell about 5,000 traps in 2017 and eventually expand his business worldwide. The traps currently cost about $30, and farmers need about three traps per acre to catch enough click beetles to be effective in controlling the pest.
“I think the really big market eventually will be the home garden market,” says Yeo. “But I’m not limiting any area … Click beetles exist in all areas of the world.”