Agriculture: Artichoke Pest Management Guidelines


  • Armyworm: Mythimna (= Pseudaletia) unipuncta
  • Beet armyworm: Spodoptera exigua
  • Yellowstriped armyworm: Spodoptera ornithogalli
  • Description of the Pest

    Beet armyworm egg masses have a distinctive cottony appearance. The pale green, early instars of the beet armyworm often feed gregariously for the first few days. Larger larvae range from green to black and often have a broad stripe along each side. The larger larvae feed singly. Although newly emerged adults can be found throughout the year in central and southern California, these armyworms usually reach their highest population levels from spring through late summer.

    Armyworm larvae are variable in color, but are usually dark green or gray with three thick stripes on each side. First instar larvae loop as they move, but older larvae move the same way as other armyworms. This insect overwinters as larvae in the soil or under crop debris and emerges in spring to feed and then pupate in the soil. Adult female moths lay tiny white eggs in clusters or rows (up to 500) on leaves and fold the leaf over the eggs, fastening it with a sticky secretion.

    Larvae of the yellowstriped armyworm are almost black with two prominent and many fine bright yellow stripes on the side. At maturity, the yellowstriped armyworm larva is about 1.5 to 2 inches long. Eggs are laid in clusters and covered with a gray, cottony material. This pest may be abundant any time from June to early September.


    In perennial cropping systems, beet armyworm occurs during summer when the adults move into artichokes from other crops. Heavy feeding damage to the growing point of the plant causes it to produce callus tissue where new young leaves and flower stalks are normally formed. Plants thus affected may have normal-appearing leaves on the outside but only a ball of undifferentiated tissue in the center of the plant near the base. This distorted tissue will not form new leaves or artichoke buds. The damage to the fall production can be 3 to 5%. On older plants, larvae feed on leaves and bracts of floral heads. Feeding on leaves is usually not economically damaging but feeding on bracts will result in culled heads.

    On annual artichokes grown on the southern coast of California and in the southern California desert, a complex of armyworms (beet armyworm, the armyworm, yellowstripedarmyworm) occurs. In this cropping system, larval feeding on the young seedlings soon after transplanting results in stand loss. Rarely is the damage serious enough to consider replanting. Once the seedlings are established and start pushing new growth, the crop can tolerate armyworm damage. Armyworm causes negligible bud damage in annual artichokes.


    Weed control in and around the field can help reduce an important source of infestation. Monitor adult activity and the crop to detect developing populations.

    Cultural Control

    Disc fields immediately following harvest to remove the food source for any remaining larvae. Some pupae may be killed by discing as well.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Cultural control and sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis and the Entrust formulation of spinosad are acceptable for use on organically certified crops.

    Monitoring and Management Decisions

    Beet armyworm eggs and larvae are often easier to find on weeds in and near the field than on the artichoke plant. Chenopodium species (e.g., lambsquarters, goosefoot) appear to be particularly attractive to larvae. Populations can build rapidly, so check fields twice a week. Monitor adults with pheromone traps placed along the edges of fields. This is a particularly good technique for detecting large emergences or migrations. Inspect the artichoke plants by gently pushing the central leaves apart and inspecting the growing point for frass (larval excrement). Treat when fresh frass is observed in a significant number of plants in a perennial crop. Make treatments when larvae are small; large larvae are more difficult to kill with compounds such as Bacillus thuringiensis. Because larvae become active at dusk and sunlight degrades many pesticides, the best time for insecticide treatment is in the twilight evening hours.

    Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used. 
      (Coragen) 3.5–7.5 fl oz 4 3
      COMMENTS: Do not make more than 4 applications/acre/crop and do not apply more than 15.4 fl oz Coragen (0.2 lbs a.i.)/acre/crop.
      (Radiant SC) 6–8 fl oz 4 2
      COMMENTS: Not for yellowstriped armyworm control. For resistance management, do not make more than two consecutive applications of group 5 insecticides.
      (Dimilin 2L) 8–16 fl oz 12 1
      COMMENTS: For control of eggs and early larval stages. Begin treatments at the beginning of the moth flight. Can be tank mixed with the other products. Use allowed under a 24(c) registration (EPA SLN No. CA-970009).
      (Intrepid 2F) 4–16 fl oz 4 4
      COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 64 fl oz/acre/season.
      (Brigade WSB) 16 oz 12 5
      (Brigade 2 EC) 6.4 fl oz 12 5
      COMMENTS: Do not exceed 0.5 lb a.i./acre per season.
      (Agree WG)# 1–2 lb 4 0
      COMMENTS: Apply when armyworms are small. Not harmful to natural enemies.
      (Entrust SC)# 4.5–10 fl oz 4 2
      COMMENTS: For resistance management, do not make more than two consecutive applications of group 5 insecticides.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases, the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of these two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    1 Rotate insecticides with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use the products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; insecticides with a 1B group number should be alternated with insecticides that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    Text Updated: 01/07
    Treatment Table Updated: 02/20