Platyparea poeciloptera Schrank Asparagus fly

This insect is an important pest in the main asparagus-growing areas of continental Europe. Heavy infestations weaken the crowns of plants and reduce crop yields. Larval damage in early summer causes asparagus heads to become dwarfed and distorted. Later in the season, infested shoots are girdled. This leads to the premature death of foliage and stems. Although formerly recorded in the British Isles as a minor pest, this insect is probably now extinct in these islands.

BIOLOGY

Eggs are laid in young asparagus shoots during May and June. Larvae burrow within the stems throughout the summer; when fully grown, they pupate in the stem at about soil level. In the autumn, infested stems frequently rot and break open, and the puparia often then fall out. Adults emerge from the puparia in the spring.

DESCRIPTION

Adult 6-7 mm long, greyish to blackish; head yellow; eyes red; wings mottled with brownish-black. Larva up to 10 mm long, white;

mouth-hooks with their main axis more or less in line with the rest of the mouthparts (cf. asparagus miner, Ophiomyia simplex, p. 191). Puparium 6-8mm long, light brown.

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