For three years I’ve been growing asparagus from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (it doesn’t look like they currently have our variety) which I did start from seed. Each year it has done better than the past year. This year, almost nothing. It’s finally time to harvest some and yet our spring crop was all but non existent. Only a few scraggly plants came up in the patch.
So, we took advantage of some plant sales and bought asparagus roots. We each planted a new section in different garden plots. They took and fronds appeared. They grew. All was good again.
Well, at least until a few weeks ago. I noticed one of the plants, a few feet tall, not looking so good. A closer inspection and I saw caterpillars or worms or all over it.
Now for a sense of scale, these guys are maybe a quarter inch in size. Dozens and dozens. They looked to be eating the fronds, but only partially. In this next shot you can clearly see how they eat the green part but leave the underlying structure.
At the time I didn’t think much of it figured it was just something that found asparagus tasty. Wandering around the yard some more and I came across the original bed and noticed one pathetic stalk still standing. A bit of red caught my eye.
Well, I finally had a chance to look up what the red critter was and found out we have asparagus beetles and the worms are the larve. I also think in the above picture the two small dark objects sticking off the stem on the right side are eggs just waiting to hatch even more beetle larvae.
Instead of repeating what others have said, I’ll point you to a great article I found on Mother Earth News, written by Barbara Pleasant, that discusses these insects in detail.
Of course nature doesn’t let anything go to waste. Birds, Lady Beetles and a predatory wasp feed on the larvae, eggs and/or beetles. There are a variety of things you can do (organically) to control or eliminate them, as mentioned at the link above, but a good start is to remove the plant debris in the fall and either compost or burn it.