Back to Anglian Gardener home page
Buy plants| Seeds | Plants | Sheepskin slippers | Sheepskin boots | Ugg Boots | Design | Deck | Patio | Lawns | Questions | Sheds | Services
Supplies Local | I like | Buildings | Lore | Mowers | Floral Art | Books | Pests | Power Tools | Site map | Clothing | Green lifestyle


Lily Beetle - Plant Pest
also known as red lily beetle or scarlet lily beetle

Pests - beasties | Diseases - fungal | How natural is your garden? | ants | aphids | blackspot | botrytis - grey mould | caterpillars | chafer beetle larvae | fairy rings | leatherjackets | lily beetle | mealybugs | powdery mildew | red spider mite | rust | slugs and snails | vine weevils | whitefly
Unwelcome visitors: cats | foxes | frogs | moles   Weeds: clearing a neglected areageneral weeding
 


Adult lily beetle
note the damaged leaves where it or its
brethren have been feeding


You almost never find them like this, they
are always under the leaf, it took some
re-positioning and quick photography to get
this picture


Lily beetle eggs
that's my forefinger for scale, so they are
tiny, but the colour makes them stick out,
they are always under the leaf


Lily beetle larvae
looking like a bit of muck on the leaf, but
these are the little b**gers that will deny
you those 6" wide heavenly scented
blooms you were so looking forwards to
picture used permission of Holger Casselmann
published under
GNU Free Documentation License,
Version 1.2

Signs - Like the name suggests lilies (from bulbs) are the main plant that are attacked, though fritillaries, soloman's seal, day lilies and lily of the valley may also be eaten. The adults and larvae eat the leaves and unopened flower buds, despite the fact that the adults are bright scarlet they are not easy to spot on the plants. They are black underneath and spend most of their time under leaves so are surprisingly inconspicuous.

If you are growing lilies, you need to look out for them from the point that the shoots appear in the spring. Look at the leaves for cleanly cut holes. The easiest way to see the adults I find is to bend at the waist and turn your head upside down so you are looking up the stems and at the bottom of the leaves rather than down on the stems. If you find one lily beetle, you can bet you'll get lots more. The overwintering adults arrive first emerging from the soil to lay their eggs in early to mid spring once there are lilies to feed on. The larvae then appear and cause the real damage.

The larvae are very inconspicuous as they cover themselves with sticky black excreta which if you've never seen them before doesn't look anything like an insect that can devour your lovingly cared for lilies in next to no time.

The eggs are tiny, but are bright orange/red and laid in groups of up to 15, so they are surprisingly easy to see for their size - they are only laid on the underside of leaves.

These pests can destroy your prize lilies in a very short time
- if you grow lilies, you have to be vigilant.

Damage - The beetles, both adult and larvae have a particular liking for the emerging flower buds, so the years flowers can rapidly be completely destroyed before you have even seen them unfurl as small buds. They will also start on the leaves and strip them. The bulb may be able to lay down reserves for next years flowers if it has leaves (but how disappointing to find out the buds have been pinched out just as they were about to do their thing), though not if the leaves are also removed.

Treatment - A two pronged attack, pick off and crush the adults underfoot and use a systemic insecticide which is most effective against the larvae.

As I said above, the adults are surprisingly good at hiding for a bright red 6-8mm long beetle. Look under the leaves, pick them off and tread on them, this may affect your sensibilities, but it is organic! Once you've had a favourite lily attacked by lily beetle though, you will happily pick them off and tread on them.

A systemic insecticide applied every 4-6 weeks according to instructions is the most effective means of combating lily beetle. This kind of insecticide is taken in by the leaves and distributed around the plant, when the adults or larvae eat the plant, they eat the insecticide and are killed, it is also residual within the plant for this time.

The lily beetle was a relatively localized pest in south east England, especially in and around London until about 2000. In the last decade it has spread throughout Britain and is now established as far north as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

While they can be a particularly devastating pest, they are readily dealt with as long as you are aware of them and are looking out.

If you grow lilies - you MUST be aware of this pest and look out for it - wherever you live

More on the Red Lily beetle


Reasons to like lily beetles
(I find this a difficult section to write as I love my lilies and therefore hate these little sods)

  • They are really quite pretty, a very fetching shade of scarlet and a well proportioned beetle, makes me feel almost guilty when destroying that elegance beneath my gardening boot.
  • Lily beetles belong to the Coleoptera, the beetles, and there are more beetle species than of any other animal group on the planet by a long way, which is in itself impressive, if not terribly useful. About 25% of all animal species are beetles.
  • You have to admire the audacity of a pest that is so colourful and obvious, at least greenfly have the decency to try and blend in, these seem to be saying "Yeh so?! I'm eating your lilies and I'm bright red - what you going to do about it?"


Garden Supplies Online | Design | Decks | Patios | Buy plants online | Tips | Lawns | Questions? | Structures | Garden buildings | Garden Contractors
Garden Supplies Local | I like | Privacy policy | Site map | Feedback | Links | Plant Nursery |
About us

Copyright © Paul Ward 2000 - 2013