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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wormy Artichokes a New Problem?

Q. What is the worm or caterpillar that attacks artichoke plants and how do I control them?  I had a beautiful artichoke plant last year and had four or five great artichokes from it right away. Then the worms (caterpillars) struck and were all through the artichokes. I cut it down and it came back beautifully but now the worms or caterpillars are eating all of the leaves.

A. This is most likely either damage from armyworms or loopers. I am guessing that it is probably armyworm.

It doesn't matter which one, the control measures are the same just the timing could be different. The usual time we see damage from armyworms is either in the spring of the fall. They can attack the leaves or the flower buds. Loopers crawl along like the cartoons of caterpillars where the midsection “loops” up in a curve. Armyworms don’t.
Spinosad as a liquid that can be attached to a hose for an application.
You would use either a spray of Dipel, Thuricide or Spinosad. All three of these sprays are considered organic and do a very good job on these types of critters. Their death is not immediate but they do stop feeding a very short time after these sprays come in contact with them. They will die a couple of days later.
BT in the form of Dipel as a dry, flowable insecticide. This one must be mixed in water and constantly stirred or agitated to keep it suspended.
If you see them now, spray. Mark your calendar for next year and spray when you first start to see damage. You can apply a preventive using your calendar as a guide when to apply.
Bt in liquid form

These sprays are good to have around since they can be used to control a number of different “wormy” pests on tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, grapevines, fruit trees, petunias and many other plants.

Read more about pest management in artichoke

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