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Asparagus Beetle ID & Control

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Concerned You Have Asparagus Beetle?

If you have an asparagus patch, keep an eye out for the highly destructive asparagus beetle in early summer. That’s because at this time, the seed pods are beginning to ripen on the tall, feathery plant fronds. And, that’s exactly where these beetles prefer to lay their eggs.

Adult Spotted Asparagus Beetle on Asparagus Frond

Adult Spotted Asparagus Beetles are orange-red with black spots.
They appear around the time asparagus seed pods begin to ripen.

So How to Manage Asparagus Beetles in Our Garden?

In our thriving asparagus patch, we always find a few of these buggers. That’s because we use non-invasive control methods in our practices.

So, we inspect our asparagus plants carefully each day for infestations. And we squish any adults chewing stems and looking for lovers. They’re tiny little beetles. But it’s hard to miss the bright orange-red forms of this pest against the green of the stems. However, they’ll be a little harder to spot when the seed pods ripen to orange-red, so watching early is key.

Catching these Pests can be Tricky!

If you’re on squishing patrol, take care to put one hand under the beetle. Then use the other hand to squish with a quick pinch. Otherwise, these little critters will sense you coming. Then they’ll scurry to the underside of the branch, and drop to the ground where you’ll never find them. But, if your hand is underneath, you’ll catch them before they fall!

Adult Asparagus Beetle

Adult Asparagus Beetle (Crioceris duodecimpunctata) chew on plant stems while they hang out looking for a mate. After mating, they will deposit eggs on or near Asparagus seed pods.

Beware Killing Beneficial Lookalikes!

The Spotted Asparagus Beetle, which is what we have and is shown above, looks a lot like the beneficial Lady Beetle (aka LadyBug), which is shown below.

How to Tell One from the Other:

The Lady Beetle is dome shaped and usually a deep, blood red. But the Spotted Asparagus Beetle is more elongated than dome shaped. Too asparagus beetle has a distinct set of dark antennae, and they’re more orange-red than blood red. (However, some lady beetles are less red and may tend toward orange as well.)

Beneficial Lady Beetle

Lady Beetle with distinctive dome shape.

Lady beetles can help control asparagus beetle organically!

Lady Beetles and their larvae may show up in your asparagus patch. And then they spend a lot of time cruising through the asparagus fronds hunting down asparagus beetle. That’s because lady beetles are asparagus beetle predators!

Other insects that help control asparagus beetles might be…

Hovering parasitic wasps inject their eggs into beetle eggs. So when the baby wasps begin to grow, the asparagus beetle babes feed them. And that means the asparagus beetle cycle may be broken!

Lady Beetle Aphid Lions

Beneficial Lady Larvae, known as “Aphid Lions”, scurry among plants eating up unwanted pest insects. These “lions” may look scary, but don’t kill them. They’re good for your garden!

Birds can help control these pests too!

We’ve seen chickadees and wrens pecking away at beetle-infested crops. That means they’re hunting for those insects and helping keep asparagus patches healthy and pest-free!

No need for a spray bottle when your habitat is well balanced!

So not every pest is 100% bad. In fact, these asparagus beetles clearly serve other purposes as well. But that doesn’t mean we want them in our gardens.

So one last suggestion: Be sure to clean up any lingering asparagus fronds and seeds at the end of the gardening season. That’s because they may harbor some eggs that slipped past your predators during the growing season. So by getting rid of those last bits, you’re even more likely to have success keeping these pests out of your garden in the future.

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