The Beetle that Only Eats Asparagus

A common asparagus beetle by stanze on Flickr

I can’t believe these actually exist. There must be a beetle for every word in the English language.

“Asparagus Beetle” is actually a very logical name for these guys, because they only eat asparagus. I don’t know why that’s so funny to me, but it is. I just… why asparagus? It’s so absurdly specific. Like, imagine an asparagus beetle at an insect dinner party:

Ant: Hey, Earl, have you tasted the honeydew Helga brought? It’s sooo good!

Asparagus Beetle: Nope. Could someone pass the asparagus?

Bee: Dude, that’s all you ever eat! Try this pollen my sister found this morning.

Asparagus Beetle: You know, I’d really rather just eat asparagus. Like, all the asparagus. You guys are good if I take the whole plate, right?

Termite: Come on, there are plenty of other great foods besides asparagus. If you keep an open mind, the world is your dinner plate! (Begins gnawing on the table)

Asparagus Beetle: …Okay, then. Seriously guys, I only eat asparagus. That’s all I need. Just asparagus.

Bee: Haven’t you heard of a balanced diet? How can you only eat one food all the time and nothing else?

Monarch caterpillar: (looks up from its milkweed salad) Eh, I get it.

There are actually two asparagus beetle species: the common asparagus beetle and the spotted asparagus beetle, the latter of whom bears a resemblance to ladybugs. Because asparagus beetles (unsurprisingly) are pests of asparagus crops, anyone hoping to rid them from their garden has to pay close attention to make sure they aren’t accidentally getting rid of ladybugs, which actually eat a lot of pests (including asparagus beetle larvae). Asparagus beetles can become particularly annoying because, unlike most crops, asparagus grows better if it is planted in the same place for a long time rather than rotated out with other plants. This gives the beetles ample time to become a major infestation if you aren’t diligently monitoring your plants, especially because asparagus beetles can go through two to five generations in a single year.

A spotted asparagus beetle by gbohne on Flickr

Adult asparagus beetles lay their eggs on asparagus plants. After about a week, the eggs hatch and the larvae begin feeding on asparagus berries or leaves depending on their species. The larvae develop quickly, eating for a couple weeks before pupating in the soil and emerging as adults only one week later. Then, as you already know, the asparagus beetles return to munching on asparagus. Spotted asparagus beetles, however, are considered the less detrimental pest because they are less common (that explains the “common” asparagus beetle’s name) and have less of an impact on the whole asparagus plant with their larvae only eating the berries. However, spotted asparagus beetles have been known to branch out and eat other foods on occasion, particularly gourds and melons.

Huh. I guess you can get tired of eating the same food all the time after all.

Monarch butterfly: (looks up from sipping flower nectar) Eh, I get it.

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