A common misidentification
Some gardeners think that the ‘insect’ in the robin’s beak is a wireworm. It isn’t, it’s a centipede! It’s not an insect either!
This is a wireworm. It looks
like a stumpy length of wire.
A common sight - a robin with a tasty centipede. But my dad taught me it was a wireworm (he did not claim to be a gardener). The curious thing though, is that when I have lectured to gardeners throughout the north, I have found that many of them think it is a wireworm too.
Unlike the wireworm, which is a garden pest, the centipede is a predator and is regarded as beneficial. This active, many legged, long orange/yellow myriapod, eats pests (and unfortunately, beneficial organisms too).
Gardening lore says that if a bug moves quickly, it is likely to be a predator. I won’t go so far as to suggest this might be just another myth!
Wireworms are very common and tunnel into root crops, especially potatoes. Large numbers may be found where a plot has previously been overgrown by grass or weeds. They live in the soil for 3 to 5 years before they pupate and emerge as click beetles.
It’s called a click beetle because, if it falls on its back, it rights itself with a flick of its elytra (wing case) and makes a click.