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The common asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagi) is a widespread and important pest of commercial asparagus crops (Asparagus officinalis) in Europe and North America. The adult beetle is bright blue and brown with cream-colored spots. Both the larva and the adult feed only on asparagus plants and both phases cause considerable damage to the harvested spear of the plant as well as to the fern, which inhibits the plant's ability to photosynthesize and store energy, thus reducing its productivity in subsequent years. Crioceris asparagi generally undergo two generations per year. Crioceris asparagi overwinters as the adult beetle. Early in the spring the beetles emerge from diapause in the leaf litter to start eating and to lay 2mm dark greenish-grey eggs, usually in clusters of 8-10, up and down the asparagus spears. These sticky and difficult to remove clusters are another means of damage by which C. asparagi reduces a crop’s marketability. The soft, grey larvae that hatch from the eggs feed for about two weeks until they reach their mature length of 6-7 mms, then drop to pupate in the soil below. Various insecticides are licensed are commonly used to control this pest; additionaly, the parasitic wasp Tetrastichus asparagi Crawford is an effective enemy, parasitizing up to 70% of this beetle's eggs.

The closely related spotted asparagus beetle (Crioceris duodecimpunctata) has a similar distribution throughout Europe and North America and also feeds on asparagus, as well as members of the family Cucurbitaceae (cucumber). The two beetles are easily distinguished; C. asparagi are orange-red with black spots. Unlike the common asparagus beetle, C. asparagi do not cause significant damage to asparagus crops because: 1. the cream colored larvae mature and feed only inside the asparagus berries and 2. adults lay eggs only on asparagus ferns, not on the spears. Planting male only asparagus strains, which do not produce berries, removes the threat of the spotted asparagus beetles as a pest.

(University of Illinois extension 2011; Fraval 1997; Watts 1912; Wikipedia 2010; Wikipedia 2011; Witt and Edwards 2002)


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