Asparagus Beetle

ilene_in_neokApril 23, 2009

At first I thought these critters were lady bug larvae as I've never seen them and I know they look a lot different than lady bugs. But my asparagus is looking all twisted and dry wherever these bugs are found. I looked them up and I found a description and picture of them, and yup, they're asparagus beetles.

So now what do I do? I didn't clean up the asparagus bed as well as I should've this last fall because things were hectic and I guess this is the price I am paying. Is there anything organic I can do? Even though they have wings and are able to fly off, I've been able to squash the ones I see. I've cleaned out all the old dead shoots and debris now. But I understand there's probably larvae now under the surface. I'm keeping the shoots picked regularly and a website that I found said pick off all the berries but I'm not anywhere near having berries yet this year.

Is there anything else I can do right now?

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Ilene,

Hand-picking them and then either dropping them in a bucket of soapy water so they'll drown, or dropping them to the ground and then "squishing" them with your foot is the most organic way to deal with them. Some people report good results from spraying with neem oil. Some people use rotenone or pyrethrum although, to me, they are fairly toxic and I would only use them as a last result. I don't use pyrethrum at all in our landscape because it is toxic to cats.

Some people who are non-organic use sevin and other chemical pesticides labeled for asparagus beetles. I don't use such chemicals because they kill the beneficials along with the pests.

Usually, if you have lady bugs around, they will find the aspargus beetles and take care of them pretty quickly.

If you have a neighbor with chickens, see if you can borrow a hen or two and turn them loose in the aspagus. They'll gobble up every beetle they spot.

Some people burn off all their asparagus fronds in the fall after they turn brown and believe it reduces the aspagus beetle problem.

Spinosad is said to be effective on asparagus beetles and it is organic, but it also is highly toxic to pollinators like bees, so only use it when bee activity is low.

I remember that Laura Lea had this problem a couple of years back. I'll try to see if I can find the previous thread and link it.

Dorothy grows a whole lot of asparagus in her garden, so maybe she'll have some more ideas.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Previous Asparagus Beetle Thread

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 2:19PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Oh no! I would be very mad if something were eating my asparagus. I keep trying to get a big enough stand to actually have a meal. I cherish every spear. Do these things eat anything else? Maybe there is some weed host that could be eliminated. They must come with the plants you buy if that is all they eat. I wouldn't think there is enough asparagus around to keep them going if you could wipe out the ones you have.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 2:22PM
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laura_lea60(7)

Hi Ilene & Dawn,

I'll say this so quietly so they won't hear me....they lost my address last year. Not sure what happened but DH used a pine bark mulch on the bed and they never appeared. I've harvested already for this year and no beetles yet.

Laura

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Laura,

Well, whatever it was that worked, I'm glad to hear they have disappeared.

Maybe it was the pine bark mulch...or maybe they went on vacation over the winter and got lost. : )

Dawn

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 10:23PM
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ilene_in_neok

I won't use chemicals in my garden. I'd rather lose my crop. I've been squashing every beetle I see. This is kind of hard because they have wings and fly off, but I'm making progress. I picked a really nice looking spear yesterday that hadn't been damaged. I have seen ladybugs in the garden here and there, but these beetles are about as big around and a little longer than a ladybug so not sure the ladybugs are their natural predators?? Maybe they would eat the larva though. At any rate I'm being diligent. I have only a few asparagus plants so every spear I get is a celebration. Luckily, I and my daughter, who now lives across the street, are the only ones that like asparagus. Asparagus seems to be something that you either hate or love.

Helen, I only get a few spears at a time, like you say you do. I wash them well, then keep the spears in my refrigerator crisper, wrapped up together tightly in a long piece of aluminum foil. Keeping light and air from them while keeping them cool really helps in keeping the first several pickings fresh and crisp until I've accumulated enough for a meal. Foil is also good for wrapping celery in. Kept that way, celery will last in the refrigerator for a long time.

I put a little REAL butter in a skillet and cook the asparagus just till they're bright green and hot. I've been known to stand over the skillet and eat the smallish ones right out of the pan. Well, they're ready to eat before the bigger ones so I'm just "weeding them out". LOL! This year two of my plants are putting out some really nice, fat spears. I'm loving that.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 7:50AM
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mizbeck(4)

Is it too late in the season to apply neem? I'm thinking the chill/heat cycle may be helping my plants. However, this is a new asparagus bed. I had no clue what killed them last year but wised up this summer. I thought moving (rotating) to a new location and putting in new roots would help but these critters are pretty savvy... or I'm just too slow...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:50AM
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