Agriculture: Artichoke Pest Management Guidelines

Artichoke Aphid

  • Capitophorous elaeagni
  • Description of the Pest

    Artichoke aphids are pale greenish-white to yellowish-green, almost translucent aphids with pale appendages. The tips of the very long cornicles (siphunculi) are distinctly dusky in color. The tubercles (located at the base of the antennae) are diverging in contrast to those in the green peach aphid, which are converging. Wingless adults have a long capitate hair on the third and the posterior abdominal segments; winged adults have an almost rectangular solid black spot on their abdomen. This aphid overwinters on its primary hosts, Elaeagnus species (Russian olive, silverberry, and others), migrating in summer to thistles (Circium, Carduus) and to artichokes where it can cause economic damage.


    Large numbers of these aphids cause artichoke leaves to curl and turn yellow and the plants to show retarded growth, resulting in the formation of undersized or deformed artichoke buds. In addition, bud stalks weaken and can no longer support the weight of developing buds, causing them to droop. Also, buds that are close to harvest get contaminated with aphid bodies. Besides this direct-feeding damage, artichoke aphid characteristically secretes copious amount of honeydew, which is deposited onto leaves and developing artichoke buds in the lower canopy, giving them a wet and shiny appearance. Honeydew deposits on the foliage result in the growth of sooty mold, which covers the leaf surface and interferes with photosynthesis. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of the crop harvested from August to September is lost because of poor quality that is a result of aphid damage. Also, aphid injury may delay the fall harvest by several weeks because of retarded plant growth.


    Artichoke aphid is a serious problem on perennial artichokes during summer, when the average humidity and air temperature are in the high range. It is not a problem in southern California annual artichoke fields. When choosing insecticide treatments to control other pests, consider the impact of the materials on natural enemies of this aphid. When conditions are ideal for development of populations, monitor the crop weekly to determine the need to treat.

    Biological Control

    Several parasitic wasps attack aphids in artichoke, most notably species in the genera Diaeretiella and Lysiphlebus. General predators including lady beetles, syrphid fly, and lacewings also consume aphids. In addition, a portion of the population may be killed by a fungal disease caused by Entomophthora aphidis. However, naturally occurring predators, parasites, and pathogenic fungi rarely provide timely control because of considerable time lag between the buildup of the parasite or predator populations and the aphid populations. Preserve populations of beneficial insects by avoiding unnecessary insecticide applications and by providing acceptable habitat for these predators and parasites.

    Cultural Control

    Destroy crop residue immediately after harvest.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Biological controls, cultural controls, and neem oil are acceptable for use on organically certified crops.

    Monitoring and Management Decisions

    An outbreak of artichoke aphids is most likely to occur during periods of high average daily temperatures coupled with high relative humidity (98–100%). These conditions generally prevail from June to September. Intensify field monitoring during this period by making weekly observations. This aphid remains on the underside of the older leaves when population levels are low; at higher population levels, aphids spread rapidly throughout the plant. A population density of an average of 3 aphids per leaflet is considered a treatment threshold. At this population level, isolated plants will start to show the sooty mold on the foliage. Within a few days, the infestation becomes more conspicuous as large contiguous areas start turning black from the growth of sooty mold.

    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.
      (Brigade WSB) 16 oz 12 5
      (Brigade 2 EC) 6.4 fl oz 12 5
      COMMENTS: Do not exceed 16 oz/acre between bud formation and harvest. Do not exceed 80 oz/acre per season. Mixing bifenthrin and permethrin at their half rate gives acceptable control at less cost; however, be sure to observe all restrictions and precautions on the labels of both products.
      (Mustang) 4.3 fl oz 12 5
      COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 17.2 fl oz of Mustang (0.2 lb a.i.)/acre per crop season. Do not make applications less than 14 days apart. See label for buffer zone restrictions.
      (Movento) 5–8 fl oz 24 3
      COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 32 fl oz per season.
      (Actara) 3 oz 12 4
      COMMENTS: Highly toxic to bees. Do not exceed a total of 6 oz Actara (0.094 lb a.i.)/acre per growing season. Consider using another insecticide for aphids if proba bug infestations are expected; thiamethoxam provides good control of proba bug, but the maximum use amount per season is restrictive.
      (Admire Pro) Foliar: 1.4–3.5 fl oz
    Soil: 7–14 fl oz
    12 7
      COMMENTS: Highly toxic to bees. Do not apply more than 14 fl oz Admire Pro (0.5 lb a.i.)/acre per crop season.
      (Trilogy)# 1–2% solution 4 0
      COMMENTS: Thorough coverage is important; apply in a minimum of 75 gal water/acre. Check with organic certifier to determine which products are organically acceptable.
    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 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 (un = unknown or uncertain mode of action) are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    Text Updated: 01/07
    Treatment Table Updated: 02/20