Three Pests that Attack Parsnips

Parsnips are easy to grow precisely because they don’t require lots of attention.  Not only that, they are also very hardy – they are resistant to several diseases and not so many pests bother them because they produce their own natural insecticide called furanocumarins.

Hardy as they are, there are still some pests that can’t seem to resist the taste of this humble root vegetable.  Some of these pests include:

Wire Worms

You would know wire worms are attacking your parsnips when you notice small holes on the root.  These holes, if you look closely, will have shiny, wiry-jointed yellow larvae.  They dwell on the soil so if you notice them there before you have started to plant, flood the soil to get rid of them.

You can also remove parsnips plants that have been infected to prevent the proliferation of wire worms.

Carrot Fly

This pest is small and slender – about 44 millimeters long – with a yellow-green color.  It is not really a common parsnip pest as they prefer to feed more on carrots, but when they do attack, they can still cause considerable damage.

Carrot flies are attracted by the smell of parsnips so it would be helpful to plant onions or garlic nearby to drive them away.  To prevent them from attacking your parsnips, you can also use a fine mesh around your crops.

Spraying foliar sprays on you parsnips and around the boundaries of your crops would also help.


If the leaves of your parsnips are turning yellow and distorted, its growth stunted, they are probably being attacked by aphids.  This pest sucks out the sap of the leaves, stems and fruits, distorting the tissues in the process.  This results in leaf curl and the above-mentioned symptoms.

You can treat affected crops by spraying them with soapy water or using a hosepipe to knock them off the parsnips.  Introducing predator insects like lady beetles would also help.

If this doesn’t get them under control, you can use chemical sprays instead such as Fenitrothion, malathion or menazon.

Aphids have a dormant period and this is the best time to control them.