Parsley Pest Management
Parsley is a leafy, cool-season crop that belongs to the same family as celery. Many varieties of parsley are available, including: Italian, Curled Leaf, and Hamburg.
The following insect pests can be a concern for commercial and personal-consumption growers.
American Serpentine Leafminer
This serious celery pest attacks parsley and many other vegetables. Adult leafminers feed on flowers, and the females feed on plant juices. Females also insert their eggs between leaf surfaces. Leafminers can cause cosmetic damage, which is parsley growers biggest concern.
Small wasp parasites can help to control leafminer populations. Disk fields as soon as possible after harvest to reduce leafminer infestation of nearby fields.
Young caterpillars feed in groups after emerging from eggs laid on the undersides of leaves in the lower plant canopy. After feeding for up to three weeks, the caterpillars make cocoons and emerge as adult moths one week later. Adults feed on nectar and are mobile, migrating from southern Florida to northern Florida and other southeastern states.
Insecticides are most effective when used against younger instars, while coverage and penetration are most important when controlling moths. Newer products aimed at caterpillars and some Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) products are effective against young larvae and less harmful to beneficial insects.
Granulate Cutworm and Black Cutworm
Whil granulate cutworm eggs are initially white and darken over time, the larvae are grayish to reddish-brown. Granulate cutworm moths have yellowish-brown front wings with distinct round spots in the center.
Black cutworm moths are larger than granulate cutworm moths. These moths have dark brown forewings with lighter bands near the ends and whitish to gray hind wings. Black cutworm eggs start white and turn brown over time. The larvae are gray, stout, and have a greasy appearance.
Cutworm moths feed on nectar, and larvae become active in the spring, feeding on the leaves of many vegetable crops. Older larvae may also cut plants off by their bases and drag them into the soil.
Carbaryl can be used as bait on parsley to control cutworms. Natural cutworm enemies such as parasitic wasps and flies can also be effective.
Adult cabbage loopers are night-flying moths that have brown forewings with a small, silver figure eight in the center. The eggs are small, round, and greenish-white, and hatch into green larvae with white strips. The larvae spin cocoons on lower leaf surfaces two to four weeks after they hatch. Crop damage by cabbage looper larvae is similar to beet armyworm damage, but less severe.
Bt products and some of the newer pesticides such as spinosad and indoxacarb can control cabbage loopers while preserving their natural enemies.
Wireworms or Click Beetles
Wireworms are click beetle larvae with narrow, tube-shaped bodies that can be creamy yellow to orange-brown. These larvae attack the seeds, roots, and crowns of plants below the soil surface. They also chew into the plant base and hollow out the stem, which eliminates growing points. Evidence of wireworm damage includes severely wilted young plants and plants with dry young leaves. Plant death follows shortly after these symptoms.
Dichloropropene is the only insecticide labeled for parsley wireworm control. This insecticide must be applied preplant, so sample for wireworms before planting. Birds such as cattle egrets may eat wireworms exposed during field disking.
Although aphids are minor pests in Florida, these soft-bodied insects can transmit viruses. Aphids insert a needle-like mouthpart into plant tissue and suck up plant juices, depleting nutrients. During feeding, aphids can also inject toxins that produce abnormal plant growth.
Chemicals with systemic or translaminar penetrating activity can effectively control aphids. Field disking and crop residue destruction are two important control measures, and both help to reduce aphid migration to neighboring crops.
Adapted and excerpted from:
J. M. Stephens, “Parsley — Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nym. (HS638),” UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department (rev. 02/2012).
S. E. Webb, “Insect Management for Celery and Parsley (ENY463),” UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department (rev. 06/2013).
Photo Credits: Will Heap/Thinkstock