Crioceris asparagi (L.)
Taxonomic position: Insecta, Holometabola, Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae.
Common name: Asparagus beetle
Geographic distribution: Almost cosmopolitan.
Morphology: Body of adult elongated, almost 7 mm long prothorax red-brown with black spots. The elytra are yellow with red borders and several blue spots; the posterior spots are joined by a blue band. Larva about 6-7 mm long, body grey-green, head and legs black.
Host plants: Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.)
Life history: The adults glue their eggs (about 250/female) in rows on the asparagus spears, leaf blades and flowers. The larvae feed on the green plants and pupate in the ground. The threshold of development was calculated to be at 10°C and total development to require 440 day-degrees. There are 2-3 annual generations.
Economic importance: The feeding on and destruction of the plants’ green parts reduces photosynthesis and thus yield. Chewing on the spears, and the presence of eggs thereon, makes them unmarketable. In the Middle East this beetle is only a minor pest.
Monitoring: The early afternoon is the best time day for sampling the pests (easily seen due to their bright colors) on the plants.
Horticultural methods: Removal of all asparagus volunteer plants and their residues.
Plant resistance: Some asparagus cultivars are resistant to the pest.
Chemical control: When necessary, chemicals should be applied when 5-10% of the spears are infested with beetle adults.
Biological control: Crioceris asparagi is attacked by several parasitoids, of which the most important is the host-specific Tetrastichus coeruleus (Nees) (Eulophidae) (formerly known as Tetrastichus asparagi Crawford), which may kill up to 50-70% of the pest population. Other enemies include Tachinidae and Ichneumonidae, and predatory Coccinellidae, Reduviidae and Nabiidae. An application of entomopathogenic nematodes in a greenhouse killed 90% of the pest’s larvae, and an entomopathogenic fungus was also tried.
LeSage, L., Dobesberger, E.J. and Majka, C.G. 2008. Introduced leaf beetles of the Maritime Provinces, 6: The common asparagus beetle, Crioceris asparagi (Linnaeus), and the twelve-spotted asparagus beetle, Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Linnaeus) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 110: 602-621.
Morrison, W. and Szendrei, Z. 2014. The common asparagus beetle and spotted asparagus beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae): Identification, ecology, and management. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 5: 1-6.
Van Alphen, J.J.M. 1980. Aspects of the foraging behaviour of Tetrastichus asparagi Crawford and Tetrastichus spec. (Eulophidae), gregarious egg parasitoids of the asparagus beetles Crioceris asparagi L. and C. duodecimpunctata L. (Chrysomelidae). Netherlands Journal of Zoology 30: 307–325.
Wold-Burkness, S.J., Bolin, P.C. and Hutchison, W.D. 2007. Early-season phenology and temporal dynamics of the common asparagus beetle, Crioceris asparagi (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), in southern Minnesota. The Great Lakes Entomologist 39: 72–79.