University of Florida

Celery Pest Management

Celery’s Insect Pests

Whether it's finely chopped for stews or sliced fresh and slabbed with a dollop of peanut butter, celery is a popular vegetable.

Keep your celery crop safe from insects by learning more about common celery pests and how to manage them.

Insect Pests

American Serpentine Leafminer

While this tiny fly is less than 0.1 inches long, it is one of the most serious celery pests in Florida. The red-eyed adults feed at the flowers, and females puncture leaves and eat plant juices. Larvae, which were laid inside the leaf surface, feed and move throughout the leaf. Because of these pests, celery takes longer to mature and have a reduced yield. 

Field disking should be done to destroy and cover infested crop residue right after harvest. Because leafminers can resist common insecticides, consider having tiny wasp parasitoids, a natural enemy, attack the larvae. 


Even though aphids are considered minor pests of celery, they can be virus vectors. The soft-bodied adults put their needle-like mouths into plant tissue and suck the plant’s juices. While they are taking nutrients from the plant, these pests also insert toxins that affect the plant’s growth.

Unlike other pests, no thresholds have been determined to control aphids. Though applying chemicals with systemic activity can be effective, avoid using broad-spectrum pesticides because they can kill natural enemies.

Beet Armyworm

These traveling moths contribute greatly to the worm complex, which is one of the greatest insect problems for celery in Florida. The beet armyworm feeds on the plant and deposits fecal matter throughout it, making the celery unmarketable.

Check fields weekly for damage, look for eggs on leaves, and consider using pheromone traps to monitor the presence of moths. Field disking and destroying crop residues will reduce the spread to nearby crops.

Cabbage Looper

Cabbage loopers, which feed on a variety of plants, thrive in warm temperatures. The adult female moths can produce 300–600 eggs during its 10- to 12-day lifespan. The larvae cause similar—but not as severe—damage as is caused by the beet armyworm.  

Like the beat armyworm, fields should be scouted weekly for the cabbage looper. Natural enemies, such as parasitoid wasps and flies, can aid in control. Destroying crop residues, controlling weeds, and waiting to plant during cooler months (when pests are less present) can help manage pests.

For more information on growing crops in the state, please visit the 2012–2013 Vegetable Production Handbook for Florida, which includes the chapter Minor Vegetable Crop Production in Florida.

Adapted and excerpted from:

S. E. Webb, “Insect Management for Celery and Parsley” (ENY463), UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department (rev. 06/2013).



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