Artichoke Fly: All You Need to Know for a Pest-Free Garden

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Artichoke fly is a common pest that can greatly affect the health and growth of artichoke plants.

These flies, which lay their eggs in the buds of the artichokes, are not only a nuisance but can also have serious consequences on the quality and yield of the crop.

Knowing how to identify and deal with artichoke fly infestations is crucial for ensuring a successful harvest.

There are various methods available for controlling and preventing artichoke fly infestations, such as employing natural predators, using insecticides, or implementing cultural practices in the garden.

Artichoke Fly: All You Need to Know for a Pest-Free Garden
Artichoke Fly

Understanding the life cycle of the artichoke fly and being able to recognize its presence in the early stages can help minimize damage and keep your artichokes healthy throughout the season.

Some key characteristics of artichoke flies to be aware of include:

  • Small, yellowish-white, elongated eggs laid in the artichoke buds
  • Larvae that are yellowish-white with a dark head, feeding on the bud tissue
  • Adult flies that are brown in color and about 1/5 inch in length

It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each control method, as well as the specific needs and conditions of your garden.

For example, using natural predators such as parasitic wasps can be an eco-friendly option, while chemical control methods may provide faster results but have potential side effects on non-target organisms.

Life Cycle of the Artichoke Fly

The Artichoke Fly, also known as the Artichoke Plume Moth, is a moth species that impacts artichoke plants.

Adult plume moths have a wing expanse ranging from 0.75 to 1.25 inches. Their life cycle includes:

  • Eggs: Female moths lay an average of 245 eggs.
  • Larvae: Caterpillars hatch and start feeding on artichoke plants.
  • Pupa: The larvae form pupae for metamorphosis.
  • Adult: The adult moth emerges to lay eggs, completing the life cycle.

Damage Caused by the Artichoke Fly

Artichoke flies can cause significant damage to artichoke plants, affecting their growth and quality. Some of the damages include:

  • Stem damage: Larvae burrow into the plant’s stem, causing deformities.
  • Leaf damage: Larvae feed on leaves, resulting in a less healthy plant.
  • Heart damage: Caterpillars can damage the artichoke heart, making it inedible.
  • Globe damage: Larvae can also damage the globe, reducing the overall quality.

To protect artichoke plants, it’s essential to monitor for signs of the artichoke fly and implement effective pest management strategies.

This includes keeping the soil moist and well-drained, regular fertilization, and proper spacing in the garden.

Identifying and Preventing Artichoke Fly Infestations

Signs of Infestation

Artichoke flies can cause severe damage to your artichoke plants. Watch out for:

  • Holes in the foliage and baby artichokes
  • Presence of artichoke plume moth adults with a wing expanse of 0.75 to 1.25 inches

Preventive Measures

To protect your artichoke plants from flies, follow these steps:

  • Keep the garden clean and free of debris
  • Remove any infested stems or artichokes immediately

Natural Enemies

Some beneficial organisms can help control artichoke flies:

  • Lady beetles feed on aphids
  • Fungi can help control powdery mildew

Control Methods

There are several methods available to protect your artichokes from pest infestations:

  • Apply organic pesticide treatments targeting the specific pest
  • Introduce natural predators such as lady beetles or parasitic wasps
  • Regularly inspect and handpick snails and slugs to prevent disease transmission
  • Provide well-draining soil and adequate sunlight to keep plants healthy and resistant to diseases

Comparison of Prevention Methods:

Organic PesticidesEffective, eco-friendlyMay require multiple applications
Natural PredatorsSustainable, no chemicalsMay be less effective than pesticides
HandpickingCost effective, immediate controlTime-consuming, requires close monitoring

In summary, preventing artichoke flies is essential to ensure healthy and productive plants.

Being proactive with monitoring and implementing preventive measures can help maintain a thriving vegetable garden.

Artichoke Fly Habitat: Where Are They Found?

Artichoke flies (Delia artichockeum) are commonly found in various parts of North America, particularly in regions where artichoke plants and other crops in the Asteraceae family are grown.

They can be found in agricultural areas and gardens where these crops are cultivated.

Artichoke flies have been reported in states such as California, Oregon, Washington, and other areas where artichokes and related plants are cultivated.

The distribution of artichoke flies is influenced by the presence of suitable host plants and favorable environmental conditions for their development.

Are Artichoke Flies Dangerous to Humans?

No, Artichoke flies (Delia artichockeum) are not dangerous to humans.

They are primarily pests that affect artichoke plants and other crops in the Asteraceae family, such as sunflowers and lettuce.

While they can cause damage to crops, they do not pose any direct harm or danger to humans.


In conclusion, understanding the artichoke fly’s lifecycle, habitat preferences, and feeding habits is essential for maintaining a pest-free garden.

By implementing effective preventive measures such as crop rotation, proper plant hygiene, and targeted insecticides, gardeners can safeguard their artichoke plants and other susceptible crops.

By staying informed about this pest’s behavior, garden enthusiasts can ensure the health and vitality of their garden while enjoying a bountiful harvest.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Artichoke Fly

artichoke fly (Terellia fuscicornis)
Location: San Jose, CA
March 15, 2011 6:50 pm
Hey Bugman!
I was browsing the site yesterday and was surprised to find that no one had yet identified the artichoke fly, although there were two photos of them in previous postings(albeit probably different species).

This photo I have submitted of the fly was taken in my backyard on my artichoke plant. The fly in my photo closely resembles the Terellia fuscicornis on BugGuide because of the V shape hair pattern on the thorax, so I am assuming it is such.

According to the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture, ”The artichoke fly (Terellia fuscicornis) was accidentally introduced into California, but is not a CDFA approved biocontrol agent.”
Signature: Vincent, fellow buglover

Artichoke Fly

Hi Vincent,
Thank you so much for taking the time to identify your Artichoke Fly on BugGuide and also for providing the image for our readership.

Letter 2 – Mating Artichoke Flies

Subject: Robber Fly?
Location: Watsonville, CA
June 11, 2015 2:33 am
Hey Bugman!
I have been finding large numbers of this mysterious (but beautiful) fly in my front yard… I’ve done a lot of internet research and cannot for the life of me figure it out… Is it a Robber Fly??? I have found them all of my Armenian Basket Flower and Artichoke… Please help! I need to know if it’s a pest or not.
Signature: Matt

Mating Artichoke Flies
Mating Artichoke Flies

Dear Matt,
These are most certainly not Robber Flies.  This is an introduced Artichoke Fly,
Terellia fuscicornis, a species of Fruit Fly.  Your images of a single individual are both females, as evidenced by the long ovipositor, and the image with the three flies include two males that are attempting to mate. 

Interestingly, bugGuide only has images of female Artichoke Flies, and they do not provide a common name.  There are many nice images on the Natural History of Orange County site. 

As an introduced species, they may pose a threat to cultivated artichokes, but we have also found information that they use Milk Thistle, an introduced pest weed in California, as a host so the jury is still out if they are an agricultural pest or a biological control agent.

Artichoke Fly
Female Artichoke Fly

August 5, 2015
Hey Daniel,
Sorry for the delayed response – I saw and read this e-mail and had to do something else. I forgot to write you back to thank you, but I really was so impressed with your knowledge and how thorough your response was! Thank you so much – very informative. I really appreciate it.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks again,

Female Artichoke Fly
Female Artichoke Fly


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Artichoke Fly

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Curious Girl
    June 30, 2015 1:03 pm

    GREAT Pictures!

    I have a series of mating Knapweed flies which ended in a bit of tragedy in Portugal. I think the true fruit flies are some of the most interesting and beautiful of the fly family so I am always delighted when I encounter one (even if they can be pests). The wing patterns can be simply amazing.

  • Curious Girl
    June 30, 2015 1:03 pm

    GREAT Pictures!

    I have a series of mating Knapweed flies which ended in a bit of tragedy in Portugal. I think the true fruit flies are some of the most interesting and beautiful of the fly family so I am always delighted when I encounter one (even if they can be pests). The wing patterns can be simply amazing.


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