Spring is rolling along here on the farm and we have been busy digging around in the gardens. Our asparagus patch is booming this year and I noticed a few days ago that several spears had poked through the soil. We have had very warm temperatures the last few days and when I went out to the garden today there were loads of spears to harvest!
Because we have struggled with asparagus beetles damaging our crop in the past, I started checking the spears for signs of this pesky bug. It didn’t take long and I spotted a sign of the beetles…the tiny beetle eggs protruding from a spear.
We noticed these eggs for the first time several years ago and started researching what they could be. One of my favorite resources, the University of Minnesota Extension website, had a great article about asparagus beetles. Here is a picture of this pest from the website:
Besides the disgusting eggs on the spears, the big problem with these beetles is that they damage the spears, causing the tips to brown or curl into a deformed shape. We had noticed these problems before with our asparagus and were glad to identify the source. The advice in the article for controlling the beetles recommended handpicking them in smaller gardens like ours and that is the method that we have used.
Handpicking, especially in small gardens, can be effective. Drop adults and larvae in a pail filled with soapy water. Also remove the dark brown eggs from the spears. New adult beetles can fly into the garden, so be sure to check your asparagus regularly.
I am hoping we can get the beetles under control right away this spring. We checked them this evening and found three adults on one of the spears. They squish really easily between your fingers. :-)
Battling the asparagus beetles is well worth the effort because there is nothing that says spring like fresh asparagus out of the garden. Our favorite way to cook asparagus is to place it on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and broil in the oven until it is softened. It was a real treat tonight to enjoy our first harvest from the garden this spring.