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How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


Beet armyworm feeding in crown.

Artichoke

Armyworms

Scientific names:
Beet armyworm: Spodoptera exigua
Armyworm: Mythimna (= Pseudaletia) unipuncta
Yellowstriped armyworm: Spodoptera ornithogalli

(Reviewed 1/07, updated 6/09)

In this Guideline:


DESCRIPTION OF THE PESTS

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.

DAMAGE

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, yellowstriped armyworm) 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.

MANAGEMENT

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/Acre R.E.I.+ P.H.I.+
(trade name)   (hours) (days)

  Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
When choosing a pesticide, consider impact on natural enemies and honey bees and information relating to the environment.
 
A. BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS ssp. AIZAWAI#
  (various products) Label rates 4 0
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 11.B2
  COMMENTS: Apply when armyworms are small. Not harmful to natural enemies
 
B. SPINOSAD
  (Entrust)# 1.5–3 oz 4 2
  (Success) 4.5–6 fl oz 4 2
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 5
  COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 7.5 oz of Entrust or 22.5 fl oz of success per acre/crop or make applications less than 7 days apart.
 
C. METHOXYFENOZIDE
  (Intrepid) 2F 4–16 oz 4 4
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 18A
  COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 64 fl oz/acre/season
 
D. DIFLUBENZURON*
  (Dimilin) 2L 8–16 oz 12 1
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 15
  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.
 
E. BIFENTHRIN*
  (Brigade) WSB 16 oz 12 5
  (Brigade) 2 EC 6.4 fl oz 12 5
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 3
  COMMENTS: Do not exceed 0.5 lb a.i./acre/season.
 
+ Restricted entry interval (R.E.I.) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (P.H.I.) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the R.E.I. exceeds the P.H.I. The longer of these two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
# Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
1 Modes of action are important in preventing the development of resistance to pesticides. Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode of action is assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee). For additional information, see their Web site at http://www.irac-online.org/.

[Precautions]

PUBLICATION

[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Artichoke
UC ANR Publication 3434
Arthropods
M. A. Bari, Artichoke Research Foundation, Salinas
E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
Acknowledgment for contributions to Arthropods:
W. E. Chaney, UC Cooperative Extension, Monterey County
W. L. Schrader, UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego County
L. Handel and T. K. Shannon, Kleen Globe, Inc., Castroville, CA

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