Thursday, August 28, 2008

What's that Bug eating my Asparagus?

Summary of post
The common asparagus beetle is identified and control measures recommended for the home gardener.

Asparagus Beetles

Yesterday I noticed bugs eating the lovely asparagus in my edible garden. It seemed like they had appeared overnight, out of nowhere. I identified the critters as larvae and adults of the Common Asparagus Beetle (Crioceris asparagi, Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Articles on the asparagus beetles that had great photos that helped me identify the pests were from Garden Gate Mag: Common Asparagus Beetles and the Univ of Rhode Island's Extension Factsheet Asparagus Beetles. I surmised that the overwintering adult beetles that emerged in spring may have been kept in check by the frequent mowings Dad and Spence did before I put a halt to it. (They would keep mowing the asparagus throughout the season). Allowing the asparagus to feather out may have provided more food for the larvae. I counted about 50 on each bush, and about 10 adults.

Controlling Asparagus Beetles
The adults and larvae drown quickly if
you drop them into a bucket of soapy water. The adult beetles are jittery little guys, and have this 'drop dead' reflex where they let go of their perch and fall, if you startle them. I would hold one hand under the beetle, neatly catching it when it falls. I didn't bother with the soapy water. I just crushed the larvae and beetles with my bare hands. Roarrr...


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